Get ready for the 2015 Sriracha backlash

According to ancient Egyptian tradition, when people pass away, they are buried along with some of their beloved personal effects. We all have at least one friend who would choose to be buried with a bottle of Sriracha.

The hot sauce, which has been referred to as the “Beyoncé of condiments,” was created by David Tran, who grew up in Vietnam and came to America in 1979. He quickly began bottling the spicy concoction in Los Angeles, and since then it’s become a staple condiment for anything and everything.

Over the past few years, Sriracha has been having something of a moment. There’s Sriracha vodka. There’s Sriracha pizza. Some people even go out of their way to put Sriracha in beer.

But what goes up must come down, and it feels like the Sriracha backlash has officially begun. The first blow to the celebrated lo mein-topper came from celebrity chef and TV personality Alton Brown, who expressed his distaste for the condiment in an Eater Q&A last Wednesday.

Eater

This is really a double blow for Sriracha: Brown, who is considered by many to be the Grand Poobah of culinary-themed programming, thinks Sriracha is both “trendy” and “overused.” 

Oh, no, he didn’t. Are you looking to start a West Side Story-esque rumble, Alton?

“It’s becoming as iconic as a bottle of Heinz ketchup…And I don’t get it.”

But Brown is not the first to question Sriracha’s sterling reputation as the world’s most indispensable condiment. Last month, for instance, Domino’s Pizza caught flak when it commissioned a bizarre, BDSM-themed ad for its Sriracha-flavored pizza from an Israeli firm. (The ad was never actually printed.)

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View also recently published a piece called “Keep Calm and Put Down the Sriracha,” writing: “It has come to my attention that some of you are becoming unable to eat good food unless it is spiced to within an inch of its life.”

However, Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern was the original Sriracha-hating hipster, declaring as far back as 2013 that he was, quote, “over Sriracha.” He wrote: 

It’s becoming as iconic as a bottle of Heinz ketchup…And I don’t get it.

I mean I do, but I don’t. I love hot sauces of all stripes, but not everything needs a squirt of Sriracha.  If you like straight heat, there are many sauces that deliver it with greater force and better flavor. If you like the acidic spike of vinegar or citrus I would suggest other sauces that do it better as well. Same for garlic-chili heads. I like Sriracha just fine, I have it in my fridge and use it on occasion… but I like the flavor of so many others, most I like even more. Next time you’re at the grocery store, remove your Sriracha blinders and take a moment to look at the other options.

Even science is getting in on the Sriracha hate. A recent study determined that men eat Sriracha not because they legitimately like it, but because that’s what they think Real Men eat.

“It is possible that the cultural association of consuming spicy foods with strength and machismo has created a learned social reward for men,” the authors of the study wrote.

It’s official. Sriracha is dead. Long live Sriracha. 

Photo via Ted Eytan/Flickr (CC 2.0)

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas

Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.