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After a Red Scare, Texas Could be Sriracha's Solution

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Rep. Jason Villalba wrote Huy Fong Foods' CEO David Tran to convince the embattled hot sauce-maker to move to Texas.

A nationwide shortage of Sriracha sauce has fans of the hot stuff in something just short of a panic, but one state representative has a plan for Texas to come to the rescue.

State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Richardson) has propositioned California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. to move its operations to Texas after production of the peppery product was halted due to complaints from citizens living near its factory in Irwindale, CA.

KUT's David Brown spoke to Villalba about state and city pitches to recruit Huy Fong, California's "over-regulated" business climate and his go-t0 Sriracha dishes.  

Villalba sent a letter to Huy Fong Foods CEO David Tran yesterday, suggesting the company move to the Lone Star state, however, he wasn't the first. Denton City Council member Kevin Roden propositioned Huy Fong last October. While Roden received a response, Villalba says State of Texas stationery might carry a bit more weight, and hopes Tran will consider the offer because Texas' business-friendly environment would benefit both the company and Sriracha-philes. 

"What we think has happened out in California is that because of the overregulation in California and the litigious business climate that a number of individuals in the neighborhood decided this would be a quick payday," Villalba says, adding that the Irwindale plant's employees registered no complaints with the city council, and that the plant operated for decades without incident. 

Villalba says the Texas Enterprise Fund could offer incentives to Huy Fong, and that the relocation could also bring as many as 500 jobs to Texas. It could also mean, however, a flavor-change for the sauce, as the California-grown peppers provide the distinct flavor profile. 

But, Villalba says, the company could ship the peppers in from California. 

It should be noted, Texas isn't the only state getting all hot and bothered by the Sriracha relocation. Last month, Philadelphia Councilman-at-Large Jim Kenney wrote a similar letter trying to attract Huy Fong Foods, as well. 

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
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