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Sriracha Saga

One Texan's spicy plan to save the best condiment ever: Sriracha

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Sriracha
If one politician has his way, Sriracha, arguably the best condiment ever, could move to Texas. Photo courtesy of Memphis CVB/Flickr

In life, there are certain truths: California and Texas will always be rivals, and all food tastes better with Sriracha.

These truths inspired one Texas Republican to launch a social media campaign to move the embattled Huy Fong Foods factory (creator of this spicy miracle) from its current location in Irwindale, California, to Texas. Residents of Irwindale have complained that emissions from production of the heaven-sent sauce is causing watery eyes and bouts of coughing.

The complaints are to be expected, considering we all know Californians can be a bit, ahem, soft.

"It's a little silly in some people's minds, but this is a serious initiative to grow and bolster the economy," says Rep. Jason Villalba.

The complaints led to a temporary moratorium of Sriracha production in November by state lawmakers. In December, the California Department of Public Health ordered Huy Fong to stop shipments of the sauce while the department investigates whether the uncooked Sriracha is safe for consumption.

(More like California Department of Wet Blankets. Am I right?)

Here in Texas, land of the spicier the better, that didn't sit right with Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba who, afraid of life eating bland sandwiches and boring soups, sent a letter to Huy Fong Foods offering to move the factory to North Texas. "I use this product regularly," says Villalba. "I spend a lot of time in mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurants, and I eat [Sriracha] almost daily."

And so on January 7, Villalba sent a letter to David Tran, CEO of Huy Fong Foods, and included a few key Texas lawmakers in the correspondence, including Gov. Rick Perry, who has unabashedly pursued California-based companies in an attempt to get them to move their business to Texas.

Citing over-regulation in California and Texas' business-friendly climate as key incentives in his letter to Tran, Villalba writes:

I want you to know that there is a viable alternative available should you choose to pursue it. The Great State of Texas would welcome you and your employees with open arms if you would consider moving the operation of Huy Fong Foods to Texas.

And though it may seem like a joke, Villalba says the economic impact of bringing a lucrative company like Huy Fong to the Lone Star State is anything but funny. "You're talking a significant number of jobs," he says. "[Huy Fong] has produced millions of bottles [of Sriracha] over the past few years. They could bring maybe 500 jobs to North Texas."

Although it's important to note that 500 jobs is just one representative's guess, what is certain is that a company like Huy Fong brings with it a variety of employment opportunities, everything from chile farming to manufacturing work to executive-level positions.

Since sending his letter, Villalba has set off on an aggressive social media campaign. On January 7, he took to Twitter to sound the battle cry:

Oddly, Villalba isn't the first Texas politician to try and persuade Huy Fong to set up shop in the Lone Star State. Denton City Councilman Kevin Roden launched a social media campaign in October to convince the Sriracha manufacturer that its "hipster credibility" would fit in well in the college town.

Though Villalba would prefer the company to set up shop in North Texas, he says he would understand if they picked another spot — as long as it's in Texas. "I represent Dallas, so what's good for Texas is good for Dallas," he says. "We would lobby to have the facility in North Texas, but if they went somewhere else, I'd be okay with that."

As of this morning, Huy Fong Foods and Tran have yet to respond to Villalba's letter, though the representative says he is preparing to bring a handful of "Texas dignitaries" to the Southern California-based company if they do show interest.

"It's a little silly in some people's minds, but this is a serious initiative to grow and bolster the economy," Villalba says. "Any time there is an attractive company and they could do bigger and better things in Texas, you can bet we're going after it."

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