IRWINDALE, Calif., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A court order halting the production of hot Sriracha, a Thai chili paste, has sent customers scurrying for the bright, red condiment, grocers say.
In November, a judge halted production of Sriracha at a plant in Irwindale, Calif., owned by Huy Fong Foods after the production plant was blamed for an outbreak of sore throats, nosebleeds and burning eyes, among other afflictions.
The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that the popular sauce is now disappearing off of some store shelves, as a sudden surge in popularity crashed head-on with the production ban.
"The frustrating thing is it's such a high-demand item, we're already having a hard time actually keeping it in our stores," said Allison Sperling, a spokesperson for Jewel-Osco stores.
The ban has created a run on supplies, Sperling said, noting "we're going to run through the supply that we have that should have normally lasted these four weeks."
Even without the ban, "the growth of Sriracha has just absolutely exploded, particularly over the last eight to 10 months," said Yakov Yarmove, the director of ethnic foods at Jewel.
Huy Fong Foods produces other hot sauces, but Sriracha is the one that has caught on. In recent months, some suggestion of the Rooster-label on the clear bottle with the green cap and the "near fluorescent crimson" sauce has appeared on baby clothes, tee-shirts and even tattoos, the newspaper said.
Midwest director of Restaurant Depot Adam Tupper said it speaks to the popularity of the "rooster sauce" that it has even hit the public in any notable fashion.
There are hundreds of food product shortages each year, but not many cause such a furor, he said.