We’re all familiar with the illustrated rooster that adorns the bottle of our beloved Sriracha — but have you ever wondered why there’s a rooster on the Sriracha bottle? If your answer to that question is yes, good news: Modern Farmer recently spoke to David Tran, the man behind Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures the spicy hot pepper sauce — and they got right to the bottom of it. Mystery solved!
It turns out there are actually a couple of reasons behind the rooster logo, the first being that the rooster is Tran’s Chinese Zodiac symbol. Typically those born in the Year of the Rooster are said to be real “people” people; they thrive among crowds, they’re talkative, and they like to be the center of attention. They’re also generally well-liked, hardworking, and resourceful, with excellent communication skills and charm to spare. Donna Lam, Huy Fong Foods’ operations manager, says the description fits Tran to a T; I’d argue that it also accurately describes Sriracha itself. If, y’know, you’re into personifying your food.
As for the second reason? The rooster is a symbol of strength in Vietnam. “I’ve had a tough life from being a refugee in Vietnam,” Tran told Modern Farmer. “So I’m trying to show that I’m strong — you know, I persevere.” True that.
But the story of the image itself is perhaps even more interesting: The original version apparently came from an anonymous street artist in Vietnam. Sometime in the early ‘70s, Tran asked for a drawing of a rooster; then, when he started making what would later become known as Sriracha, a miniature version of the sketch offered a tiny bit of embellishment on the bottle caps. Tran left Vietnam in 1975, first heading to Hong Kong before landing in Los Angeles by way of Boston. Once in the U.S., Tran commissioned a new version of the rooster sketch — which, by the way, he carried with him throughout his long journey to the States — from an artist in Chinatown. This is the image that wound up on the bottles we know and love today, giving rise to our fond nickname for the condiment: Rooster sauce.
Oh, and for the curious, remember that Taco Bell Sriracha menu? Kansas City-based food site Recommended Daily took me up on my challenge and tried every single item on it except for the breakfast burrito (“We’re only able to commit one meal to this project,” they apologized). The final verdict? Relatively tasty, but “ultimately… more Taco Bell than Sriracha.” Looks like those of us who seek to burn our mouths off are better off applying an actual dose of rooster sauce. But hey, points for trying, Taco Bell!
Images: Scott Olson/Getty Images; Giphy (1)