If a company tries to sell a cheaper version - then it feels like a cheap knock-off. And as everybody can afford to buy the original, why wouldn't you?
If a company tried to sell a more expensive premium product in flashier packaging - then it would feel inauthentic. What are you paying more for?
Plus whilst they've not paid for advertising, they've performed an excellent job of ensuring I'm aware of their history. I've no idea of the history of say Tabasco or Franks - but I've many times heard the history of this plucky little immigrant founded company (and this thread is just a continuation). Maybe the key is to just have a likable story - and let others tell it.
It reaches a point where it has economy of scale and specific taste profile developed that it is very hard for others to break into the market. Similar to bake beans for those living in UK.
The cost of ingredient is so low in the overall of things, restaurants, owner, vendors or whatever are not willing to switch ingredients and risk losing their customers. Tabasco is similar because majority of their business actually resides in Food Services sector and not consumers. The basic rule of thumb in Food offering, dont FUCK with your recipes.
I remember when I was still in the Food sector I was trying to import and distribute Sriracha for years in the late 00s and very early 10s. Every time the answer has been not enough capacity. Demand outstripping Supply in most of their important / domestic ( US ) market. Importers have to rely on non-official parallel import channels. Somehow I think it went internet viral by mid 10s, which in turns generate further interest. And a whole positive feedback loop was formed. Worth noting is that these things takes a long time to make. I dont know about Sriracha but Tabasco takes up to three years. Once you factor in capacity planning and sourcing of quality chillies ( and assuming yields are good ), that is why supply takes time to catch up.
Unfortunately these type of investment takes a very long time and are not something VC likes to invest in. But for me they are sometimes far more interesting and fascinating than most tech.
1) When ketchup is called for, there isn't a substitute condiment that's kind of similar. Sriracha in general is a subset of hot sauces, but nobody thinks of a general case for ketchup--it's just ketchup. Maybe there are situations where no hot sauce but sriracha will do, but that's much rarer in the US (where Huy Fong dominates the market).
2) There are no Fancy Dijon Ketchups. The food snobs don't have an artisan brand they like better; Heinz is as good as it gets. It's Andy Warhol's old observation that the President drinks the same Coke that you do, only more so--there are way more niche colas than niche ketchups.
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hela_Gew%C3%BCrzwerk_Hermann_L... which I prefer over any Heinz(I have tried so far). Though I have not much use for Ketchup, so can't tell with certainty.
We did have a Heinz SA, but they are failing and will be discontinued. I'm guessing that all the locals stuck to their preferred brands and no one else made enough of an inroad.
I've seen plenty of brands in specialty markets that are more expensive than Heinz for that reason.
I'm curious how trends will go in the future -- maybe next year will be all about artisanal small-batch ketchups, who knows -- but it wouldn't surprise me if ~everyone who likes ketchup on things is perfectly happy with Heinz 57 and ~most people who want something else for their burgers, fries or steaks want something different. BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard, sriracha, guac, mole... and not just "ketchup, but better".
Like, imagine your friend excitedly dragging you to a new restaurant, where they serve their house-made fries with ________. The world of things that can go in that blank is so large I have a hard time imagining "artisanal ketchup" being the thing that wins out.
1. It’s widespread (not even artisanal) in the regions it is deployed in. I can walk into my neighborhood grocery store in Texas and always expect to see Whataburger Spicy Ketchup in the condiment aisle.
2. The spicy ketchup is a genuinely superior product to Heinz. It just straight up tastes better, feels less sugary, and it’s far enough ahead in quality that I actively seek it out over “regular” ketchup.
Yeah, there are. Lots, actually.
> The food snobs don't have an artisan brand they like better
Sure, they do (lots of them—as with mustards contrasted with basic French’s yellow, plenty of different styles—for different foodies, some that are refinements of the mass market style, e.g., Annie’s Organics entry, but lots that go with more distinct flavor, especially spice, profiles; Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup would be an example in this category.) What there might not be is a Grey Poupon equivalent, a succesfully mass-marketed mass-appeal entry brand to the not-the-basic-thing segment.
Heinz has had decades and armies of food scientists and tasters to dial in their recipe. The only way to compete with that is to make a ketchup that is less appealing to the average person but more appealing to some niche subset of people (e.g. crank up or down the acidity or sweetness).
You sound like it's some kind of bizzarre weird strategy that only few insane weirdos would try. As in fact that's how most of the food brands (by number, not by volume) would work - find your niche and serve it. And not only food, of course. Some produce average food for "average person", some produce excellent food for people that value it. That's how it has always been.
For instance, pretty much anybody will prefer high quality ice cream to basic ice cream, but the reason that basic ice cream still exists is because the fancy stuff costs 5x more.
The problem with making a "fancy" ketchup is that ketchup is a completely artificial food. The quality of a ketchup is in how balanced it is. And balancing a ketchup is a fixed cost not a marginal cost. Whoever makes the most revenue will have the best ketchup.
Finding a working ketchup formula may be not easy. But you have to do it once. Then that's it, you can sell it forever. And it doesn't take that much. As well as it doesn't take it that much to not just stuff tomato paste with as much sugar as chemistry would allow and call it "ketchup". And yet, mass brands to that and a lot of people happily buy it.
Better stuff may cost more, because of smaller volumes and better quality controls, but not 5x. At least not all of them. I just checked the list of ketchups in Whole Foods. Heintz is 17c per ounce. 365 brand is 8.7c/oz. Others range from 18c to 73c, pretty much equally distributed. Yes, there's one 5x brand - but that's one, out of a dozen. And that's just one store, I'm sure there are more brands which will occupy the whole gamut from 1x to 10x (I am sure somebody somewhere sells a ketchup for more than a dollar per oz, even if I haven't seen one).
Tastes really aren't universal and, more than that, have a certain average (though there is large individual variation) contribution from familiarity and other path-dependent effects.
Do average people eat average food because of average income, or average tastes, of average tastes due to average income? Each is part of the story (and how much of a part each is varies from person to person and category of food.)
To your taste, sure. For lots of people, the same thing is true of dijon (and other not-French’s-yellow) mustard.
OTOH, plenty of people disagree with you on that, which is why there are established, succesful—if individually mostly niche—alternatives.
> Heinz has had decades and armies of food scientists and tasters to dial in their recipe.
So did French’s. The hard part of getting broad reach on alternatives isn’t making some alternative that enough people will like if they try, but getting enough people over the activation energy threshold to try. Grey Poupon’s breakout marketing campaign in the 80s did that for mustard; there hasn't been an equivalent for ketchup.
And, sure, that probably doesn’t unseat the dominant player, but that’s not what thr uothread discussion of “dijon” alternatives was about.
Sure there are. There's lots of alternative ketchups both on the health scale (less or no high fructose corn syrup) and taste scale (spicier, smokier, you name it).
I use ketchup semi-regularly but haven't bought the Heinz type in ages (primarily to avoid so much fructose, but it's also fun to experiment with the different flavors).
Even Heinz offers its own organic variant , but IIRC it’s not particularly different from the regular.
Finally, the category also includes tomato “jam” (and some might include tomato chutney), tomato-based BBQ sauces, and even tomato-based salsa (commonly used for egg dishes in place of ketchup).
Heinz is a 'default' - and absence of it used to indicate the replacement was worse. Now - plenty of better options, just maybe without the brand recognition.
Heinz is a good baseline - you know what you're getting.
Whole Foods has over 10 brands of ketchup: https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/search?text=ketchup including their own "365" label. It suggests to me if everybody were buying Heinz, they probably wouldn't bother doing their private label?
In Quebec there is a pretty proud history of a much different style of ketchup, which is much sweeter with bigger chunks of tomatoes.
It's not uncommon to see traditional-style ketchup options in restaurants and at grocery stores.
I'm not convinced that's the case. I mean, yeah, I buy Heinz to go with fries or on my beyond burger, but for a brief time I made my own ketchup using a very simple recipe I found on a youtube channel but substituting my own spice blend and it was amazing. In the end though my palette is not very picky and my inherent laziness won out.
So since I know ketchup can be better than Heinz, I have to expect that there is in fact a fancy branded ketchup out there that is.
There are many cases where sriracha not not general hot sauce would work such as dim sum and pho.
And before you counter with "in the US", I'd argue that Huy Fong is much more dominant in California than in the US at large and in California, cuisines where only sriracha type hot sauce and not just any general hot sauce works are much more common.
Personally, I like Red Gold on fries more than Heinz. Couldn't explain why very easily as I'm not one to use food terms. Maybe a bit more acidic?
Really? I'd say it's nr 2 after Felix.
Queue meeting my now asian wife whose family uses Sriracha in near about everything and it has basically replaced ketchup.
Matter of fact they use it so much it changed MY spice tolerance such that we now have Sriracha Ketchup instead of Heinz. We even went the extra bit and replaced American Mayo with Kewpie mayo.
American condiments can stand to learn from global condiments...
Cue meeting. We have to trie to do better.
Watch out for a heap of downvotes.
wow, what was she before she was asian? (i kid!)
i like sriracha, but i don't really get the craze, personally preferring sambal oelek (garlic chili sauce) and tapatio more.
What was she before she turned Asian?
There's no such thing as American condiments, unless you pretend the US is homogeneous (which it isn't remotely close to being). Maybe you kinda sorta could have pigeonholed the US like that 40-50 years ago. I don't think it's possible to label-standardize as it pertains to food in the US any longer (as though there's American food at this point), given the diversity in the US now and the large variance between regions, states, cities.
The US is (sadly) extremely homogeneous because it's the same few dozen brands that are ever-present everywhere. You can be air-dropped blindfolded into a strip mall anywhere in the country and there will be no way to tell where you are since it'll be the exact same chain-food.
> Maybe you kinda sorta could have pigeonholed the US like that 40-50 years ago.
Strange comment because 40-50 years ago it was quite the opposite. A few nationwide-chains existed already, but every town had a local flavor and nearly all restaurants were local. It was fun to travel town to town experiencing the differences. Today it's the same everywhere. Very dull.
Certainly, we have access to the same stuff, and many of us enjoy similar food, but I mean, Californians put avocado on everything, and you're not going to get Gumbo in Seattle.
America has a national food culture that kind of exists on top of the local one.
However, most Americans do not cook the way fast food restaurants produce food. Also, chains differ. For example, in the south, there are often different proportions of chains. Most people eat their local diet.
I notice it all the time. Contrary to popular belief, these 'ethnic' places are not expensive or fancy. When I lived in California, I often ate at cheapo Mexican restaurants and cheap asian ones. Now that I live in Oregon, I often find myself at cheapo pub fare type places or food trucks serving Lebanese food.
Cuisines change a lot across the country. The fast food system is a homogeneous layer superimposed on top of that. Most people do not eat that everyday.
And Heinz has a Sriracha Ketchup.
>. Once you factor in capacity planning and sourcing of quality chillies
I believe Huy Fong (as of 2016) and Tobasco (As of much earlier) run their own pepper farms. Tobasco takes those three years to age in vinegar. Siratcha does not have an aging process I am aware of, it goes straight through the commercial kitchen and into bottles.
I didn’t realize it take up to 3 years to make the sauce. It’s because they need to ferment some of the stuff?
Sriracha does seem to be northern California's version of ketchup - it is ubiquitous in restaurants. You can even get it at Starbucks, though I've never seen anyone add it to hot drinks.
I've seen it a lot in southern California as well, although various Mexican hot sauces are also popular, as is Tabasco.
The Tabasco story is really interesting and it's essentially the Sriracha of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Tabasco is a private, family-owned company. They still grow all the seeds for its pepper crops on the same island they did in the 1800s . Some family members were friends with Teddy Roosevelt . I remember hearing, but cannot find a source right now, that Roosevelt like the sauce so much he had it included in military ration kits.
It remains a differentiated product based on its core feature, taste.
I might give Bachan's a try!
Maybe a bit different than Huy Fong, but it checks the box for me.
Side note, the main mechanism TJs and other store brands use to pull off this trick is to have the original manufacturers produce the product for them as a white label product.
I've got two different blends of Sriracha sauce in my cupboard, both from Thai companies and one of them even copying Tran's bottle style, but it wouldn't have occurred to me until reading this article that a particular Vietnamese-American brand was supposed to be the "authentic" one. He could have got the origin story out there to people who don't watch documentaries about hot sauce if he'd spent money on advertising though...
And what more would I possibly want from their product? It is a good product at a reasonable price. People are going to go with what they like.
All you have to do at this point is not mess that up. Don’t try to increase profit margins by raising prices or changing the formula. And don’t do anything that is going to lower brand recognition.
The biggest risk to Heinz ketchup, for example, is their premium price. Restaurant owners often go with a different ketchup because Heinz costs significantly more. Obviously Kraft-Heinz has determined that they can make more money this way and since they have strong brand recognition it probably won’t harm them.
If a company tried to sell a more expensive premium product in flashier packaging - then it would feel inauthentic. What are you paying more for?
Valentina black label is better for some things, though. It's not marketed as a sriracha sauce, just a Mexican hot sauce.
Aside, but if you ever find yourself in or near southern Louisiana, the Tabasco headquarters at Avery Island is actually a pretty fun outing. Lots of tasting (pre covid anyway), a self-guided factory tour, and some cool nature.
My grocery store has a half dozen Sriracha sauces. Some I like less, some I like more. They’re all pretty different in flavor.
The "local Chinese restaurant" is a much more franchised thing than most people are aware of, and those 10 distributors meant it already ended up throughout the country and allowed everyone to try it for free. This is likely the secret to it's success.
The only similar product I can think of is Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Though it did get some advertising, by automatically being available in every Taco Bell it became a minor craze. It's not an easily reproducible concept though.
This is interesting (but also makes sense) -- do you happen to have an article?
There are immigrant associations that will take recent Chinese immigrants, train them to cook the US staples, help them find a new "territory", and finance the restaurant. It's really fascinating.
It's getting a bit better but there's still a long way to go even in the cities that have more Chinese options (NYC, west coast cities)
In the medium-sized city where I live, there is a standard American Chinese place by a university which is frankly not very good even for American Chinese food, but was owned by people from sichuan and would make off menu sichuan dishes for immigrant students. But they noticed non-immigrant Americans ordering them too, and wisely noticed the general trend going on, and the same owners up a different place a few miles away with actual sichuan food and prices 2x+ higher, which has been very successful. :)
In Philadelphia there's also the popular Han Dynasty chain of sichuan places.
I'd imagine even the places with food closer to "actual" sichuan food, if they are popular with non-Chinese people, have "Americanized" to some extent. I couldn't say as they are my only exposure to it! But I know sometimes I get something where the flavors/textures are just TOO different than what I'm used to, and I just don't like it!
One of the reasons I love living in Toronto: its many ethnic neighbourhoods from just about every nationality on earth e.g. Hungarian, Vietnamese, Iranian, Jamaican. Perhaps only matched by NYC, their local restaurants are 100% authentic to the point of importing fresh ingredients almost daily.
Their heavy reliance on immigrants. Imagine moving to another country eager to start a restaurant featuring the food you've spent years cooking only to show up and be told you need to learn all their recipes and call it American cuisine.
If you can't find a decent restaurant, you could try to make stuff on your own. Search foursquare for "Asian supermarket", it will likely carry real Chinese ingredients even if it is primarily Vietnamese or Korean. As far as what to cook, I think https://omnivorescookbook.com/ always comes up with something pretty good. I also swear by the Mission Chinese cookbook. While some of those recipes aren't exactly authentic, they are close enough (and the author explains the ways they differ, like they have a recipe for kung pao pastrami - you're not going to find pastrami in China, but the kung pao part is pretty close).
China is also a huge place that has many regional variations. Just like BBQ in Texas is different from BBQ in Eastern North Carolina, it's hard to say what is or isn't authentic in terms of Chinese cuisine, or what is authentic to a particular regions, etc. I'm sure they're arguing about it over there, too.
I'm not exactly qualified to judge their authenticity (although I've been taken by a Taiwanese acquaintance to more than one in the past - no names, sorry), but a lot of them are in immigrant communities where the primary customers seem to be people of those ethnic backgrounds, not "average Americans".
It's a shame, because a lot of the dishes have lost a lot of their subtlety and especially regional variation.
Why Fruits and Veggies Are So Cheap in Chinatown - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11981063 - June 2016 (237 comments)
The Kitchen Network: America’s Underground Chinese Restaurant Workers - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8425246 - Oct 2014 (39 comments)
Parts of it are incredibly obvious though, things like interior design, the Chinese Zodiac place mats, fortune cookies and Sriracha.
chili 61%, sugar syrup, salt, garlic, water, acids: E260, E330, monosodium glutamate (E621), xanthan gum E415, potassium sorbate (E202).
Chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate (E202), sodium bisulfite (E222), and xanthan gum (E415)
Seems very similar, distilled vinegar is E260, and E330 is citric acid.
I'm not saying you can't buy it on Amazon and I don't know enough about nutrition to know why E222 was banned.
Edit: I am wrong on the internet. I just checked my bottle in the fridge and it is GoTan  Sriracha, from the Netherlands. With a green cap, too. I feel kinda ripped off, tbh.
The green cap meant that beautiful Huy Fong Sriracha, which has no mayo, but it's so distinctive that other manufacturers copied it, presumably to fool gullible people like myself
Yes. In the US, if Apple sold apples, its name would be classified as descriptive and they would not have any exclusive right to that mark when selling apples. Other companies could also label their apples with "apple" and Apple could not stop them.
My (limited) knowledge is solely of US law, but different companies with the same trademark can coexist in different industries, e.g. Delta (the airline) and Delta (the faucet company).
Note: I don't know much about sriracha so no idea if Thai people consider it to be a traditional local stuff or not.
To be clear, there is no “Sriracha” sauce in Thailand. At best there is a spicy pepper and vinegar blend which some cuisine uses, but it’s nothing like the California-made Sriracha sauce, and it is not called Sriracha (or Sri Racha) AFAIK.
Where I live, a lot of SE Asian restaurants will give the original red dipping sauce for certain dishes which it is meant for, and it is nothing like Sriracha. Different pepper, different color, way sweeter, very little acidity.
Sriracha as you know it is a Los Angeles invention by an intrepid culinary entrepreneur. It resembles actual Thai sauce about as much as Kraft “American cheese” [sic] does a good English cheddar. (Although unlike this comparison, Sriracha arguably improved on the original.)
> It resembles actual Thai sauce about as much as Kraft “American cheese” [sic] does a good English cheddar. (Although unlike this comparison, Sriracha arguably improved on the original.)
Thai people hate the americanized version of sriracha, so I guess your comparison is right that Huy Fong Foods sriracha is like the Kraft “American cheese”.
I've traveled to Thailand quite a few times and AFAIK the sauce is not called "Sri Racha" there. The American sauce is just named after a town from a region that is known for spicy sauces generally. So they don't even share a name.
> 9/ Interestingly, Tran never trademarked "Sriracha" (he did trademark the green cap and rooster, though).
If anyone wants to compete with Siracha they would be best served by using marketing. That Siracha gets to skip spending on marketing after having developed a green field market just speaks to their competitive moat. They produce a high quality product at reasonable prices, if anything there isn't room to compete if not on marketing.
Once you have your place 'in the system' etc. you have incredible leverage.
The chocolate bars at my convenience store are the same, boring 20 variations for my entire life. They are not 'the best products' - they are just the products that will work through the system. It'd take a decade of consumer awareness to put something on par with 'Coffee Crisp' and then you have to get all of the gears of distribution to go along with it.
So what we end up up with in chocolate - and any number of other goods - is kind of a 'channel equilibrium' where products establish channel dominance (which requires scale), and then inch forward ever so slightly.
To see a 'new' product get to that level ... take a look at 'Swiffer' (cleaner) - basically, that's an institutional effort by P&G to 'disrupt' their own categories a bit and they've spent zillions marketing that. It's a trivial little thing, not much in the way of innovation, but when were talking consumer products at that scale, it never was about 'innovation'.
These companies do buy brands and scale them but even then brands meet their limit. 'Ben and Jerries' they can probably 10-50x in size ... but at that price point they can only go so far with the category. Odwalla ... sadly had to shut down.
In 2021 it is. They got to this place without marketing and by entering an already packed condiment market. Tabasco sauce had already been around for a century before they even started.
Tabasco and Sriracha are about as similar are ketchup and mustard.
I'm sorry if you can't appreciate the difference between the two but saying that the main thing different between them is the pepper is ludicrous as is saying they're meant for the same kinds of culinary use.
I don't care for either, having eaten far too much spicy food to taste anything but vinegar in either, but acting like there's a world of difference between them is just silly. If at any point you wanted hot sauce, either one would do despite your preferences.
Trying to put liquid tabasco in pho would be beyond disgusting. But you go on and think that they're interchangeable.
And similar does not mean identical, I'm fully aware there are differences.
Yes, putting Tabasco into pho soup is disgusting. Go try it and see what happens.
> I did not expect that.
Like I said, you clearly do not know what you're talking about. Your culinary experience appears to be limited.
> And similar does not mean identical, I'm fully aware there are differences.
Clearly you are not. This entire time, I've been arguing that they do not occupy the same niche in the world of condiments and you've been telling me that I am wrong.
My first reply to you says they have broad differences.
> I'd consider them like mustard and brown mustard, some broad differences but ultimately both versions of the same concept.
Anywhere you use mustard, you could also substitute brown mustard and vice versa.
This is not true for Sriracha and Tabasco.
 https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11251204 (in Finnish)
They do not run advertisement too. The founder also insisted on some distinguished principles such as not taking any debt, not own supplier money, and not getting listed in stock market.
The sauce is often named as a necessity for Chinese studying or working aboard. You can simply mix it with rice or noddles and have a delicious meal.
If you like spicy Chinese food, you should give it a try.
I don't know if I'd classify it as spicy, though my taste buds may also just be very dead.
Edit: the Thai version is thinner, tangier and a toucher sweeter, and made from spur chillies, not jalapeños.   
Not saying the Tran sauce is bad; just different.
The US has a different flavor culture than SE Asia (though Huy Fong did get its start selling to SE Asian immigrants in the US).
I've tried more "authentic" Srirachas and don't like them at all (taste like cheap sweet ketchup to me). I eat Huy Fong almost daily (I have no Asian heritage).
It really is a matter of taste I suppose.
The problem with the Flying Goose sauce (yeah, that's the one) is that the taste is more like garlic powder, which I think tastes disgusting.
BTW: I think it's a fair question, so I really don't get the downvotes.
Also, a minority of "Chicago style" pizza is deep dish.
All Chicago-style pizzas, fat or thin, are strictly inferior to St Louis-style pizza.
edit: clicked on the link, it seems to be that one, I think?
David Tran is not from Sri Racha or Thailand, he's a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee/immigrant to America
Sri Racha wasn't his first hot sauce just the most successful.
He was trying to make hot sauces especially aimed at local asian restaurants not to perfectly replicate an authentic Thai recipe he was inspired by. It doesn't miss the mark because it wasn't aiming for it
> “I considered Sriracha a Thai sauce when I made my version,” Mr Tran explained in an email. “There were already Srirachas in the market when I started making my style. I took the original Sriracha and made it enjoyable to my taste.”
Of course jalapenos are grown in Thailand today, but I'd wager the original sauce used a different, more local pepper.
The entire genus of capsicums are new world plants, and would have been unknown prior to the Columbian exchange. The family includes tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, which are all native to South America. There is no "local" pepper in Thailand- all of it was imported.
edit: there's black pepper and long pepper, but that's... not the same thing.
On a side note, there's a bunch of articles claiming peppers have been used in East Asia before the Columbian exchange. Like this one for example. These usually have a bit of a nationalist bend since the implication is that the local chili heavy cuisine has been unchanged for millennia. It's an interesting thought experiment at least.
> The recent research states that gochu appeared on the earth billions of years ago , and might have been transferred by the birds that ate them
That seems like a rather incredible claim, and I imagine it’s probably untrue.
> These usually have a bit of a nationalist bend since the implication is that the local chili heavy cuisine has been unchanged for millennia.
Why do we have the need to claim that our cultures have been unchanged for millenia? Almost none have, human culture is remarkably adaptive and changing, and every time two cultures meet they change each other, adopt each others food and music etc -- and why wouldn't they?
These days almost all humans/cultures are insisting that their "authentic" culture is unchanged for millenia though. I don't know if it's always been that way (see what I did there haha). I think it's actually a very right-wing sort of thing, harkening back to an imaginary "authentic" past when things were, uh, great.
It's effecting our very understanding of culture, we all think that "real" culture is unchanging forever -- which is not how humans work at all! Or that in some distant past, all culture existed entirely silo'd without interacting or influencing each other, merging with each other and splitting off from each other -- also not how hardly any actually existing human populations have existed through time!
I would wager that 300+ years is more than enough for any custom to be qualified as traditional.
> Austrian: America doesn’t have a culture — it’s only really been around for a few hundred years: my family has chairs older than that! We date back to the 1100s!
> (Best friend from China): my village’s local temple (the core) was more than 500 years old in the 1100s; your culture is still getting started!
> (Friend from Tyre): my house is in the new part of the city built by Alexander in 330 … BC. The old city was established further back in the past from the new city, than the new city is from now. Until your people have lived in a place for at least 2000 years, how can you really say you “own” it?
Then we got a beer & watched “Dancing With the Stars”.
As a consequence their culture is converging somewhat towards the cultural revolution which is only about 70 years old. So they are a young political culture in that regards, and politics dominates due to its military force.
For the record, I'm a Finn. By my own definition, there are maybe only three traditional Finnish foods that have survived that long. Carelian stew, särä, and maybe robber's roast (clay-pit mutton).
Whereas something like wine leaf rolls from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon - now those can be properly traditional.
The idea that before some certain point a culture was "frozen" is usually ahistorical. Certainly true for cultures of the Italian penninsula, on the Mediteranean providing easy access to wide swaths of land and peoples, part of a former empire that spanned continents.
Easy: as soon as the people who adopted it into the current form are dead and the adoption forgotten.
My grandmother's cherry island cake was almost certainly copied off the back of a package sometime in the 1920s or 30s; maybe it's an adaptation of a German or Hungarian recipe. Now it's a tradition in my family.
As to the history of chilli in Asia, there is a very good book The Chile Pepper in China - A Cultural Biography, worth reading
 at least I think so, my Thai is quite bad.
We have many "<town/village> <foodname>" here, and basiclly every grandma in that town/village, has a slighty different recipe, with a slightly different "secret ingredient" or even with major changes (think chilli vs texas chilli)
Today, even though every sauce brand in Thailand has started producing a Sri Racha-type sauce, many Thais still only considered Sriraja Panich's sauce to be the authentic one.
The style has been around for a long time and other SEAsian countries have their brands.
I used to consume a lot of a different brand when I was a kid and always thought it was funny when this particular brand caught on in western countries. I never thought it was very good.
But yeah, in the end we like what we like -- I'm a non-immigrant American, I definitely liked the huy fong one the first time I tried it (in the mid-90s?), and still do, and I'm not ashamed regardless of how "authentic" it is. :)