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One city’s ‘chili’ reception could mean a hot deal for Philly, p2

11/18/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Philadelphia Councilman at-Large Jim Kenney recently invited a company to relocate here, prompted as much by his dedication to the public interest as his dedication to his cheesesteaks. The company manufactures the very hot, in all senses of the word, Sriracha sauce, and it is in the midst of a court battle with its home city.

According to the city’s complaint, the odors coming from the Huy Fong Foods Inc. production facility during chili mashing season, usually September and October, are so strong and so pungent that residents are forced to stay inside or to leave their homes. Residents have complained of health problems related to the chili in the air, too. The facility is a public nuisance, the complaint says, and the city wants it shut down.

Thanks to our industrial heritage, Philadelphia is no stranger to the idea of “nuisance.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a nuisance is a condition, activity or situation that interferes with the use or enjoyment of property. Generally, a nuisance is something that is around for a while — the stench, say, from a chili sauce factory versus the smoke from your neighbor’s fire pit when the wind blows just right. Air pollution from ironworks along Philadelphia’s riverfront would be another example of nuisance.

In his letter to Huy Fong’s founder and CEO David Tran, Kenney may have been thinking of the factory smoke that lingered over the city for decades. He told Tran that Philadelphia is made of sterner stuff than the city suing Huy Fong, and everyone here would welcome not just the facility but the continued comfort of knowing that the supply of Sriracha would not be interrupted. The mere mention of a shortage, he said, triggered a citywide panic, the hot sauce version of a run on the bank.

Kenney’s agenda is not solely focused on consumption, though. He told reporters that the city needs more blue collar jobs, and production facilities like Huy Fong’s would address the job shortage very well.

It is not clear how long it would take for a company like Huy Fong to relocate to the area. Even an expansion could take months of planning. 

It is not clear, either, if Huy Fong has even received the invitation. If the court hearing in the matter slated for late November results in an injunction, though, the company may just hotfoot it to the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection).


NBC 10 Philadelphia, “Politician Makes Plea to Get Stinky Hot Sauce Factory in Philly,” Dan Stamm, Nov. 6, 2013

KCET, “Complaints Against Sriracha Factory Increase,” City News Service, Nov. 6, 2013