My most morally questionable food-moment

So, some of you may know that my younger brother passed away unexepctedly at the end of February. This has meant increased visits back home to Chicago to check in on mom, who is in the middle stages of dementia.

The abbreviated visits, now full of necessary errands, leave much less time to hit up hometown favorites like Malnatti’s or Pequods fo pizza, or White Castles for a few sliders… But the one thing they DO sell in Chicago that you cannot get except by very $$$ shipping is real Vienna hot dogs. So, a few icepacks and a softsided cooler, and I have this now, home in California and safely in the freezer:

The more observant among will have noticed one of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn’t the same…

Before my brother died, he picked up a jumbo bottle of Huy Fong Sriracha. The kind that has now all but disappeared from store shelves, owing to (depending on who you listen to) a poor crop driven by climate change or some questionable business practices by the owner of Huy Fong.

There was also a FULL, NEW bottle of Trader Joe’s brand Sriracha-style sauce.

I stole the Huy Fong from my senile mother. I am justifying it by rationalizing that it was my brother’s, she’d never really use it, and if the caregivers want hot sauce, there’s the bottle of TJ’s.

I am not proud of this moment. But surely, we all must have similar sins in our past. Deliberately taking the last piece of cake you KNOW was being saved for the sibling/parent/child… Spiking the leftover thai with cilantro to keep your soap-tasting roommate away from takout?

C’mon. Out with it. The statute of limitations has surely passed.

NB: The hotdogs are in the freezer. The Sriracha is in the fridge door where it belongs.


Food is always re-doable (and usually better with each attempt). Can’t ever recall excluding/depriving any friend/guest/family member from anything.

No reason to feel bad. There’s a good chance your brother would have wanted you to have the sriracha. My brother would have wanted me to have a lot of his crap that I’ll never see because of…well…issues. At least you have a little piece of your brother in your fridge.


I used to live in the apartment below my mother for a while, and still had a key to her/formerly our apartment. One munchie-heavy night with nothing appealing in my own fridge, I snuck out an entire block of young gouda to be devoured between my ex and me (my mother wasn’t home, obviously).

When asked about it by my mother I insisted I had no idea what happened to the cheese, and the poor woman probably thought she was losing her mind. I still feel kinda bad about it, but my excuse is I was in my early 20s :grimacing:


I wouldn’t feel too bad . . . she probably knew you were lying (unless the building had a very large mouse infestation).


I am guessing that asking your mom if you could take it was an issue of the question being unnecessarily confusing for her, so I don’t see anything wrong with what you did. For all you know the caregivers will like the TJ’s stuff better. Anyway, Isn’t Huy Fong made in CA? Really you are just returning it to its rightful home.

I’ll share a morally questionable food moment with you that just happens to involve sriracha. All I had for the longest time was a bottle of the Trader Joes brand sriracha. Hated it but was stuck with it due to Covid shopping issues. I was happy when I eventually saw a big bottle of the Huy Fong at my local market. Just one bottle left. There was a young, confused looking couple standing in front trying to decide which hot sauce to buy. I gave them a few moments to decide but were going back in fourth in discussion about which to get. I did not really hear their discussion but they seemed to be buying something for a recipe. I could have been nice and asked them what they were making and offered some helpful advice but instead I decided to make the decision easier for them and grabbed it. I felt a little bad about it but I really don’t like the TJ’s stuff. They looked a little sad as I walked away with it. Turns out the bottle is slightly dysfunctional. I have to squeeze it really hard to get any out and then is squirts out sideways and all over the place. I have tried cleaning it and making the hole bigger but it still does not work right. I think of them standing there every time it happens. That’s Karma for you.

I didn’t know there was a shortage still. If anyone is out and wants to try another brand I really like Thai and True. I buy it locally but you can buy it online. Not cheap and It is really spicy. Almost too spicy for me but I like the flavor. I use just a few dots of it where I would use several healthy squirts of huy Fong. Her other sauces are good too. I especially like the Prik-King. Worlds better than any other commercial product I have tried.


I am sorry you lost your brother. I have lost 3 of mine. My moral dilemma with food also involved going home to my mother’s house. She had remarried after divorcing my father and her husband was an unpleasant man. I used to buy food that I couldn’t get on the East Coast (she lives in Ohio). Her husband would devour whatever I brought into the house and I started hiding food from him. For things not requiring refrigeration, I would keep it in my suitcase. He was a cretin, but I never worried about him going through my personal things. For refrigerated food, I took advantage of the fact that he could not see from his right eye - he actually had a prosthetic eye he would pop in and out to entertain people (ugh). So I stored food I did not want to disappear in the very back of the bottom right hand crisper drawer concealed by the carrots, celery and lettuce kept there. I didn’t really have a moral problem with that. He was a very disgusting individual. He didn’t like me, either.


Sorry for your loss.

So what is the questionable practice by Huy Fong? I know their products are in shortage. Something about hot peppers are in shortage. On the other hand, it seems to affect them more than other companies.

Huy Fong sources their peppers from one farm (or at any rate a limited number of farms), IIRC, making them very susceptible to localized problems (drought, flood, etc.) There was also an issue with emissions/fumes from their factory.

Got it. Thanks. Yes, I have heard of the fumes complaint.

I had also heard (though I do not remember the source, so take this with a huge deer-lick of salt) that Huy Fong was generally in the business of buying out one particular (or a couple of particular) farms ENTIRE crops. Supposedly, Huy Fong started shopping around at other farms, and trying to force is favorite farms to a lower price point, at which point they all gave him a collective middle finger.

Again, I may have some (possibly ALL) of the details wrong. I’m too lazy to google-fu this with the attention it deserves, but as Bourdain once said, the fastest way to get good info on a message board is to confidently state incorrect information. The nitpickers will give you the real answers barely after you hit ‘post’


This is my favorite advice of the day - possibly the YTD - and I am committing it to memory.




Excellent quote - and I think you’re correct on the Huy Fong/Sriracha info, too, so not nitpicking.

Plus the whole noxious odor issue in Irwindale.

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April 2023 update:

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What a mess.

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While there is a fan base for Sriracha, it better solves its problem soon or its customers will find some other alternatives and never look back.


Is Hoy Fung your only sriracha option in the US? Surely there are other brands, including the same Thai brands we get here in the UK.


Er… not sure that translates well…


There has been no disruption in Huey Fong supply in my area. And yes, we have other brands but for better or worse they are not the same flavor spectrum as HF. Many are simply variations of sweet chili sauce.

And/but since this product is totally dependent on a single product, and since so much of California’s fields were flooded for much of early spring this year, there well may be a problem with securing the requisite chilis.