Die-hard sriracha fans know that a woman named Thanom Chakkapak invented the tongue-scorching topping in—you guessed it—Si Racha, Thailand, during the 1930s. However, if you’re eating a version of the spicy condiment in America, a company called Huy Fong Foods is likely responsible for that burning sensation in your mouth.
Ever been curious how the condiment is made? Swing by Huy Fong and see for yourself. In 2014, the company began offering free public tours of its Irwindale, California-based facilities amidst a large number of complaints from locals about the factory's pungent smell and air pollution.
Although visitors are welcome by appointment year-round, the best time for sriracha enthusiasts to visit is reportedly during fall, also known as "chili-grinding season." During this period, chili peppers are mashed into a mixture that will eventually serve as the base of all the company's products (this includes sambal oelek and chili garlic sauces, in addition to sriracha).
Onlookers can watch as truckloads of chili peppers are delivered to the factory. There, they’re dumped onto a conveyor belt, ground, and processed into sauce, before being poured into the brand’s iconic rooster-label bottles and packaged for distribution. Visitors might also get a chance to meet the label's CEO, David Tran, who greets patrons at the door.
Sadly, chili-grinding season ends on October 17—meaning you only have about a week left to take an eye-watering tour before next September. However, if you act quickly, you can schedule a reservation online.