Sriracha hot chili sauce isn't just a condiment, it's a food nerd culture movement, and the nuclear red goop's rooster logo serves both as visual shorthand and a nickname—"rooster sauce." But nobody knows who first penned that iconic cock, not even the man who founded the company.

Modern Farmer sat down with David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods, to try and trace back the genesis of the Sriracha rooster logo. The label that symbolizes sweet spicy delectableness the world over couldn't have had more humble beginnings:

The genesis of this iconic image took place back in the '70s, on the streets of a war-ridden Vietnam. David Tran, Vietnam native and founder of Huy Fong Foods, stumbled upon a street artist. Tran asked for a drawing of a rooster, and the rest was history.

"We don't have a connection," Tran tells Modern Farmer, speaking of this artist whose name he never bothered to ask. "And even me, I don't remember who he is."

Not only is the name of the artist lost to the sands of time—the sketch itself has disappeared. Tran fled Vietnam in 1975, landing in Hong Kong, Boston, and finally California, where the Irwindale factory that makes Sriracha was opened in 1980. Tran had a Chinatown artist recreate the first rooster drawing in a larger, sharper format, but the original sketch is gone.

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"I don't keep anything," Tran told Modern Farmer. "I never thought that I'd be successful so I didn't keep any of my souvenirs – I don't even have a picture."

Whoever the original artist is, and wherever he may be, his handiwork has become the icon of food nerds, culinary mad scientists, and heat-seeking eaters the world over. [Modern Farmer]

Image: Shutterstock / Julie Clopper


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