Nathan Litz, a CHS graduate, never imagined that his name brand green sriracha would be available in over 60 restaurants in the St Louis area and over 100 retailers between Champagne, Illinois and Kansas City, Missouri. Sriracha Granada can be found in major grocery stores like Lucky’s and Shop n’ Save.
“It started when I made one mason jar of green sriracha at home,” Litz said. “Initially it was never meant to be a business, it was never meant to be a side gig, it was just me making sriracha at home. Food and cooking has always been a big part of my life. My house was the one where people would come for big cookouts and barbecues, things like that.”
After making the sriracha sauce for his friends several times, Litz received lots of encouragements to sell it. He started by making 10 bottles and selling those to local restaurants, then continuing more as he realized what a hit the sauce was. The production escalated in Litz’s home for about 3 years and in the end he was making 20-30 gallons at a time. People all around town were buying it, to a point where he was unable to keep up with the demand.
“I started working with a private label manufacturer about 3 years ago from today,” Litz said. “So basically we spent about two years sampling the product going back and forth, making sure it translated well from me making it at home from a full scale production line.”
The production of any popular good starts with its inventor. When the inventor is an individual person, and not a company, the original creation of the good is hard to reproduce exactly the same, especially in the food industry. Litz said, “I signed a non-disclosure agreement with the company, then I sent them my recipe. They then made exactly my recipe, but with their facilities, processes, and ingredients.” The first few samples Litz received from the manufacturer were either too hot, too sweet, or too salty. The sampling process was long and tedious for Litz, but worth it in the end.
The final product is known as Sriracha Granada, with a taste more smokey and less sweet than regular red sriracha. The first major production of the sauce was in September of 2016 and 500 gallons were produced. The success of the product escalated over the past year and 2000 gallons were produced in May.
The process of producing the final product was not easy and Litz encountered many obstacles along the way. The year 2015, apparently, was a bad year for jalapeno production, so the company had to switch jalapeno suppliers several times in order to get the amount they needed. Additionally, the label of the brand Sriracha Granada had to be changed in the middle of production, causing more hardship. However, overcoming these obstacles while having another job, demonstrates Litz’s strong determination and perseverance.
In regards to being a CHS alumni, Litz said, “I learned the concept of being determined, setting goals, and building organized plans to meet those goals. One thing I guess that is kind of personal to me that was strengthened in various classes during high school was that if you really know in your heart that something is awesome, do it and don’t stop.”