Sriracha Originator Doesn’t Regret Lack of Trademark as Imitators Flood the Market

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Huy Fong Foods did not trademark its Sriracha sauce, and many copycats are flooding the market. Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili sauce, left, Huy Fong's original Sriracha and Kroger's Sriracha chili sauce. (Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Wander down almost any supermarket aisle and it’s easy to spot one of the food industry’s hottest fads. Sriracha, the fiery red Asian chili sauce, has catapulted from a cult hit to flavor du jour, infusing burgers, potato chips, candy, vodka and even lip balm.

That would seem like a boon for the man who made the sauce a household name. Except for one glaring omission.

David Tran, who operates his family-owned Huy Fong Foods out of a 650,000-square-foot facility in Irwindale, doesn't see his failure to secure a trademark for his Sriracha sauce as a missed opportunity. He says it's free advertising for a company that's never had a marketing budget. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

David Tran, who operates his family-owned Huy Fong Foods out of a 650,000-square-foot facility in Irwindale, doesn’t see his failure to secure a trademark for his Sriracha sauce as a missed opportunity. He says it’s free advertising for a company that’s never had a marketing budget. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

David Tran, a Vietnamese refugee who built the pepper empire from nothing, never trademarked the term, opening the door for others to develop their own sauce or seasoning and call it Sriracha.

That’s given some of the biggest names in the food business such as Heinz, Frito-Lay, Subway and Jack in the Box license to bank off the popularity of a condiment once named Bon Appétit magazine’s ingredient of the year.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.

Bottles of Sriracha hot chili sauce  are shown in a file image. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Bottles of Sriracha hot chili sauce are shown in a file image. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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