The San Gabriel Valley has quietly made a massive impact on American & international culture through locally-grown businesses.
A Few Local Legends
Huy Fong Foods
David Tran got the world addicted to Sriracha sauce, which he brought from his hometown in Vietnam. A 1970s refugee, Tran named his factory “Hoy Fong” after the Taiwanese freighter that brought him to the United States.
The spicy-sweet sauce has been made in the San Gabriel Valley since 1987, and is now manufactured in the city of Irwindale.
Farm-fresh chili peppers, driven straight to Huy Fong from nearby Ventura County, are crucial to the recipe.
Today, the 90-something-year-old Tran can still be seen tinkering with equipment on his factory floor, even though his company has become an international phenomenon and its products are sold in over 50 nations.
The late Joe Coulombe launched this now-nationwide grocery chain in Pasadena, inspired by his world travels. The store’s Caribbean theme reflected Coulombe’s love of tiki culture.
Its stock, on the other hand, was designed for “underpaid and overeducated” young people like the youthful Coulombe himself, who had developed a taste for wine and cheese in Europe.
In 1948 - the same year that birthed McDonald’s - Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first In-N-Out Burger, a tiny 20-square-foot stand in Baldwin Park. Visitors to Baldwin Park can eat at a reproduction of that first stand, just blocks away from In-N-Out University, where the company fastidiously trains its management.
Today, In-N-Out is a bonafied cult phenomenon with over 300 locations across the West Coast, arguably the most beloved fast food in California.
The In-n-Out “Secret Menu”
Customers hip to the ways of the burger chain can order unlisted specialties: