Sriracha, short documentary directed by Griffin Hammond
–Review by Ashley Linne
Who knew a condiment had a cult following and its own movie? Sriracha is a 33-minute documentary about—you guessed it—Sriracha hot sauce.
The film documents a condiment love like no other, and reveals the backstory of the delicious “rooster sauce.” In the United States, Sriracha is ubiquitous in Asian and other restaurants, chef’s kitchens, and college cafeterias. In this film, we learn that the company, Huy Fong Foods, makes only hot sauce; that they have virtually no online or official social media presence; and that they have never advertised their product.
The soundtrack of the documentary contains songs various artists have written as odes to Sriracha. The interviewees have a deep appreciation for the sauce and one even compares collecting hot sauces to collecting cigars. Some carry it with them or keep a bottle at their desk at work. People put the sauce on and in everything from scrambled eggs to soup to candy. People get Sriracha tattoos. Fans have created a Sriracha festival. For many people, Sriracha adds the flavor of life—to the tune of 20 million bottles sold a year.
The founder and maker of Sriracha, David Tran, is an ethic Chinese refugee from Vietnam, who fled the fallen Saigon on a ship that eventually inspired the name of his company: the Huy Fong. The documentary features interviews with Tran, and it is inspiring to hear the story of the a soft-spoken man behind the multimillion-dollar enterprise. For having such a famous product, we learn that he himself is relatively unrecognized in public.
In 2015, after this documentary was released, Huy Fong Foods’ shipments of Sriracha were suspended temporarily due to complaints from the people living near the plant about the stinging aroma of production. This led to #srirachapocalypse and the stockpiling of Sriracha across the USA.
What can church leaders learn from a hot sauce? Perhaps we see that people are eager for an experience that is simple yet EPIC, something that adds a punch of flavor and yet also brings consistency to their lives. We see something unremarkable—a condiment—bringing people together. We see a company that focuses solely on one thing and doesn’t bother even advertising it, because it knows the product is so good word of mouth is enough.
What we offer our churches and the world is not a product for consumption but a Person who upends us. We offer relationship. Jesus offers relationship—He offers Himself. We offer ourselves patterned after this. Are we adding flavor to people’s lives as we go? Are we bland? Are we so spicy people spit us out? Does our flavor bring diverse people together? If our church buildings disappeared, would our neighbors be rushing to stockpile us?
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to think about.
You can watch Sriracha on Amazon Prime.