Does Sriracha have a new recipe now? Beloved company begins fiery legal battle

Huy Fong Foods announced the pepper supplier that it's used for 30 years stopped growing for them.
Sriracha
That company that makes Sriracha is now engaged in two fiery legal battles.David McNew / Getty Images

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/ Source: TODAY
By Erica Chayes Wida

Huy Fong Foods' iconic Sriracha hot sauce is tasting a little different these days to some of its diehard fans.

Though the sauce has legions of devoted fans, recently, several sauce aficionados have noticed something strange about their favorite fiery condiment. When Huy Fong posted a message to its Instagram account earlier this spring, those suspicious of Sriracha's subtle shift in taste received some insight as to why: The hot pepper supplier Huy Fong has been using for almost three decades is no longer giving them the goods.

"The chili peppers HF had been receiving in the past was supplied only by one grower, Underwood Ranches, for the past 28 years. In 2017, Underwood Ranches, who had made high profits with its relationship with HF, decided to stop growing chili peppers for HF without any warning," Huy Fong wrote, adding that Underwood Ranches then released its own hot sauce in 2018.

But the plot gets even spicier.

In 2017, Huy Fong filed a lawsuit against its now-competitor, alleging that Underwood Ranches owed the Sriracha maker $1.46 million plus interest "for not refunding an overpayment," the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

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Underwood Ranches then counter-sued Huy Fong for $20 million in damages. The former grower and producer are now duking it out in the courts in Ventura, California, according to a Huy Fong spokesperson who confirmed that the first trial began on Wednesday.

On Instagram, once Huy Fong's followers were alerted to the news of the pending lawsuit, they had a lot to say.

"I was wondering if I were crazy thinking new sriracha tasted differently. Now I know. Damn," one person wrote.

"New sriracha tastes like crap without the Underwood peppers," another said.

But despite any purported change to the brand's flavor or original peppers, most followers appeared to support Huy Fong.

"this [sic] is probably one of the more transparent companies ive [sic] ever seen thank you @huyfongfoods for keeping it spicy all these years! much love," one devotee wrote.

"They stopped making it for HF. That's their bad. They were making money and stopped producing? Who's fault is that? (Theirs) how are you responsible for damages? @huyfongfoods Take them to their Graves and make sure they never come back. And keep making that great sauce for the next century," another posted.

To make matters even more heated, Underwood Ranches' new self-made sauce is trademarked, "The Pepper Makes the Product." In January, the brand posted about its new condiment with a somewhat passive aggressive caption on Twitter.

"Without Underwood’s pepper, it’s just another condiment. #sriracha," the tweet said.

Well, that burns going down.

A representative for Underwood Ranches was not immediately available for comment. Regarding the lawsuit and information about Huy Fong's new pepper supplier, a company spokesperson directed TODAY Food's request to lawyers at the firm Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold, LLP, who could not be reached by Wednesday afternoon.