The Truth About David Chang's Favorite Hot Sauce

David Chang, known for his Momofuku restaurant chain and his Netflix special Ugly Delicious, definitely likes spice (via Eater). His latest project is the fried chicken restaurant Fuku, which boasts a menu item called "Rippin' Hot Chicken," which is served with protective gear including milk, rubber gloves, and ranch dip because of how spicy it is (via Time Out). On a Reddit "ask me anything" thread, when asked his favorite kind of hot sauce, he responded that his preferred brand is Crystal (via Reddit). 

Crystal is a Louisiana-based hot sauce which was was founded in 1923 (via Crystal Hot Sauce). The invention of the sauce came about by happenstance. When Alvin Baumer moved to New Orleans, his wife's father game him a loan to purchase a snow-ball syrup factory. Inside a drawer, Baumer found a hot sauce recipe labeled "Crystal Pure." When the popularity of the sauce took off, Crystal moved to a larger location, and during World War II produced rations like preserves and canned beans and shrimp for Allied troops. 

One of the things that set Crystal apart from other hot sauces on the shelf is that the entire cayenne pepper, including the seeds, is used in the production of the sauce. The peppers are aged and come from Chihuahua, Mexico (via Eater) and some 4.5 million gallons of the sauce are produced annually.

Crystal's popularity spans the globe

While some hot sauces like Tabasco list vinegar as the first ingredient, Crystal is actually made up of predominantly peppers (via Thrillist). The sauce only has two other ingredients: distilled white vinegar and salt. The company employs a staff of around 100 and many of the employees have been making hot sauce for their entire professional lives. The sauce is all made at the company's headquarters in Louisiana and it's distributed to more than two dozen countries across the globe. While the sauce's largest market is in Miami, you can also find it in Dubai. It has a particularly dedicated following in Saudi Arabia, where oil workers from Louisiana carted cases of the sauce along with them to have a taste of home.

While it's the best-selling hot sauce in the state of Louisiana, it ranks as the ninth most popular hot sauce in the United States as a whole. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the plant was flooded and had to cease production for months. Eventually, they moved into a new processing plant about an hour west of New Orleans, where the new factory was located above sea level. However, flooding destroyed photos and documents associated with the brand, as well as the original recipe.

While their hot sauce is the best selling item, Crystal also produces everything from teriyaki sauce to wing sauce to steak sauce. And David Chang isn't the only celebrity chef to laud the sauce. Andrew Zimmern and Jeff Henderson are also fans.