with the bean gone, the old lady and i decided to take advantage and do stuff that she wouldn't be all that interested in. the first thing we did was book a free tour of huy fong foods in irwindale...the sriracha factory.
we roped my co-leader into it too, and the three of us giggled incessantly as we rode backwards together in the back seat of that sweet ass ride.
apparently we'd timed our tour just right, as our guide informed us that they were in the height of chili harvesting season. truck after truck pulled in loaded down with thousands of bright red peppers.
inside, the 600,000+ square foot warehouse was bright and airy. there were thousands of these blue plastic tubs stacked high, which they use to store the base that's created from the ground peppers.
they mix it with vinegar, water, and a couple of preservatives. for obvious reasons, the actual recipe is a secret. only two workers are actually inside the room where the base is created.
here, the plastic (extremely phallic) preforms go through the blow molding (heheheh) process, where the plastic is stretched out into the size and shape for the sriracha bottles. they actually make all of their own bottles in-house, which makes it easy for them to make as many as they want in whatever sizes they need. i always find this kind of stuff fascinating to watch.
the next machine fills the bottles up with the sauce and caps them off with the familiar green lids.
they then get boxed up into cases and packed onto pallets by a robot. cooooool.
after we'd gotten our fill of watching that process, we hopped back into our sweet ride. as we walked towards the cart, i caught a glimpse of david tran, the founder of huy fong foods, zooming by on his own golf cart. our guide told us that he comes in to work every single day, and not just to supervise. he's been known to assist in every department in the building, and treats his employees really well. he's also somewhat of a ballroom dancing aficionado, with a ballroom in the building and lessons available to anyone who wants them. heh.
just like the plastic bottles, they manufacture those blue plastic tubs too. they reuse them as long as they possibly can before they get recycled.
at the end of the tour, we were given access to the gift shop. seems typical, until you find out that all of those products out there with the sriracha label on them receive a license to use it but aren't required to give huy fong foods a cut of their profit. and everything the gift shop stocks is purchased directly from those licensees and sold to tourists with no markup. i guess mr. tran makes enough money on his sauce and doesn't need the added bother of managing an accounting staff to handle anything but what they produce in that factory.
and of course, we were given a free bottle of sauce to take home.
want to take a tour of your own? it's about half an hour long and it's free.
we'd had fun, although i'm glad we went without the bean this time. i'm pretty sure she'd have been bored to death. but you should go! it's interesting and educational and you learn more about sriracha sauce than you could possibly have ever imagined.
besides, who doesn't love free stuff?