Monday, September 22, 2014
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Jim "Hot Sauce" Kenney pens Sriracha love letter

Taking a bold stance on a controversial issue, Councilman Jim Kenney today announced that he is pro-Sriracha.

Jim "Hot Sauce" Kenney pens Sriracha love letter

This Oct. 6, 2010 photo shows bottles of Huy Fong Foods Inc.´s Sriracha chili sauce during a groundbreaking ceremony for the company´s Irwindale, Calif. factory. The city of Irwindale on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to stop production at the Irwindale factory, claiming the chili odor emanating from the plant is a public nuisance. (AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune,  Leo Jarzomb) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
This Oct. 6, 2010 photo shows bottles of Huy Fong Foods Inc.'s Sriracha chili sauce during a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's Irwindale, Calif. factory. The city of Irwindale on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to stop production at the Irwindale factory, claiming the chili odor emanating from the plant is a public nuisance. (AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Leo Jarzomb) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT

Taking a bold stance on a controversial issue, Councilman Jim Kenney today announced that he is pro-Sriracha.

Actually, he just wants the hot-sauce company, which is taking heat from a California town with a smelly Sriracha factory, to relocate to Philly.

Kenney wrote a light-hearted letter to Sriracha CEO David Tran urging him to make the move. He provided 10 reasons, including:

"And here in Philadelphia, known around the world for our unique and proud tradition of wrapping meat and cheese with bread, even Philly Cheeseteak purists admit loving the Sriracha on their beloved sandwich."

(For some reason, Clout doubts that Geno's supports the use of a hot sauce with Chinese characters on the label.)

Kenney did not get the approval of City Council's influential Sauce Caucus before sending the letter, and sources say Chairwoman Marian Tabasco is red-faced with anger.

The full letter is below.

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Dear Mr. Tran:

To put it mildly, unlike your irresistibly spicy Sriracha rooster hot sauce, it has been an emotional week for us here in the City of Philadelphia. The mere rumors of a Sriracha shortage are causing record lines at stores citywide. Ever since we learned the global supply of your ambrosial Sriracha was in jeopardy due to a lawsuit filed by the City of Irwindale, California ordering you to halt production at your plant located there, we have been holding our collective breath. And believe me when I tell you we know how to hold our breath; after all, we are home to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Philadelphians are pretty tough, so forgive me for not understanding why Irwindale city officials would cave into pressure from a few nearby residents who can’t handle the fragrant aroma emanating from your factory there. Around here, we live by the motto ‘if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ So, I am writing to formally invite you to relocate or expand your operations to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

Here are the top 10 reasons Huy Fong Foods should relocate Sriracha production to Philadelphia:

1) Some trace Philadelphia’s love affair with Sriracha back to October 29th, 2008 after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. Instead of admitting we were crying tears of joy, we simply blamed Sriracha saying we ‘accidentally rubbed our eyes’ after smothering our chicken wings with your addictive spicy red nectar.

2) We Philadelphians are a modest and frugal people; we are never embarrassed to be seen at a public restaurant doing what appears to be a ceremonial rain dance, just to squeeze the last drops of Sriracha left inside the bottle.

3) You may have seen pictures of Philadelphia’s stunning City Hall—arguably one of the most architecturally impressive government buildings in the country—atop of which you will find a large statute of William Penn, our state’s founder. What you may not know is that if you look at the statue from exactly the right angle, it looks just like William Penn is holding his … favorite bottle of Sriracha hot sauce.

4) Our local economy is rebounding after years of industrial decline and Philadelphians are hungrier than ever. What’s more, we have a bountiful selection of inexpensive commercial real estate located far away from residential areas, so you never have to worry about upsetting your neighbors again. And as you expand your distribution network, you should keep in mind that Philadelphia is at the culinary crossroads of the East Coast with easy shipping access to tens of millions of appreciative customers all along the I-95 corridor and beyond.

5) To the north, your hot sauce has brought shockingly bland New England dishes back to life. To the west you have Pennsylvania, the agricultural powerhouse of the region where you could dramatically expand your limited fresh supply of chilies. To the south, Maryland crab and Carolina barbecue hasn’t tasted the same since your beautiful red and green-capped rooster bottles started lining local grocery store shelves.

6) And here in Philadelphia, known around the world for our unique and proud tradition of wrapping meat and cheese with bread, even Philly Cheeseteak purists admit loving the Sriracha on their beloved sandwich.

7) Philadelphians have always loved underdog stories; until a few years ago, Philadelphia’s population had been in steady decline for decades. That all changed as a result of a booming population of immigrants whom we welcome with open arms. As a first generation American with Chinese and Vietnamese roots, you will feel very comfortable here. Philadelphia is proud to boast that more Vietnamese-Americans call our city home than any other East Coast city, including New York, and our Chinatown district is more vibrant than ever.

8) Much has been written about how despite your company’s meteoric rise, you have never let success go to your head. Your business philosophy is one that Philadelphia embodies and our honest, no-nonsense spirit would be a perfect match for a CEO who has refused to raise prices for over 30 years—perhaps even better than pairing Sriracha with literally anything edible and then washing it down with a frothy, cold Philadelphia-brewed beer.

9) You have become admired for your widely-reported willingness to sacrifice profits in order to maintain a high quality product and continue to treat your employees with dignity. This is exactly how Philadelphia does business and we sincerely hope you will consider expanding or relocating to a place that will truly appreciate you, the Sriracha-loving City of Philadelphia.

10) Please come. My office can be contacted using the information below.

Sincerely,

James F. Kenney

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

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