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, 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.
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