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The nation, the mighty United States of America, faces a choice: let the California city of Irwindale burn and let Sriracha, the sweet hot sauce of the gods, flow or save Irwindale's delicate faces, shut down Sriracha production, and possibly cause a shortage of America's most precious hot sauce. 

A quick recap to catch you up: the factory that produces Sriracha is located in Irwindale, and 30 or so residents there have been complaining of irritated eyes, burning throats, and headaches, which they believe is the factory's fault. And if the city shuts down the factory, there could be a shortage because the factory won't be able to keep up with demand — it sold some 20 million bottles last year.  "[T]he price of Sriracha will jump up a lot," CEO and Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran, told The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. Huy Fong foods makes the legendary sauce. 

Now, of course, when we talk about food shortages there's also some sense of hyperbole. The clearest example, is the great bacon shortage of 2012. But bacon is not Sriracha. Bacon comes from pigs (duh), and a shortage can't happen unless we suddenly run out of pigs. Sriracha comes from this factory, so if we shut down this factory, then the official supply of Sriracha becomes finite and the demand (20 million bottles in 2012!) might not be quenched. And then, as Tran points out, you could see prices hiked and whatnot, until the supply stabilizes itself. 

We think it's better to be three steps ahead of the game, instead of just sitting around hoping someone else solves this national crisis. Here are a few end-game strategies during these precarious times:

Become a Sriracha Kingpin

Best for: Megalomaniacs, Lannisters, Stringer Bells

How You Want the Chips to Fall: Sriracha means nothing to you. Like you like to dip your phở noodles in it, and sometimes like it on your eggs, but like any other hot sauce, you could take it or leave it. But you are always searching for power, and Sriracha, if times get tough enough, could be just that. Think of a world where people would pay top dollar, and cities are brought to their knees for a bottle of Sriracha, and imagine yourself on top of it.

If that sounds like a dream for you, then you should start buying copious amounts of Sriracha now. And hope Tran's company goes down in flames, and other cities follow Irwindale's lead and stop producing delicious spicy condiments. Soon, the world and food will be tasteless and gray, but everyone will know where to turn. And since you have quietly amassed all the Sriracha, you will get these spice-seeking plebes to do anything you want. Unfortunately, however, Sriracha has an expiration date — meaning if you don't quickly parlay your power into something else, your legacy may be short-lived. 

Become the Next Sriracha

Best for: DIYers, Walter Whites, Targaryens, Self-Starters, Jeff Jarvis, Gwyneth Paltrow

How You Want the Chips to Fall: Let's be honest, you don't think far enough ahead to be a kingpin, but you crave the power. For you it's a waiting game. When the dust settles, and the world is torn asunder over the dwindling Sriracha supplies, that's your time to strike and disrupt the chain of power by making your own Sriracha. That's not going to be easy, for starters, it will have to be better than Trader Joe's version and every other person's own recipe (take this lady out first). But if it's a hit, and you fill that burning hole left by the rooster sauce, you will live like a king — granted your sauce doesn't cause health problems for your neighbors. Start here. 

Die of Nostalgia

Best for: People who still hold torches for their exes, Grandparents

How You Want the Chips to Fall: You would let Irwindale burn to the round because Sriracha is just that good. And nothing will ever come close. If Sriracha ceases to exist, you have to find that last batch (go to Irwindale if you have to) and think of it like one last gasp before the ship goes down. 

Be Apathetic

Best for: The Starks, Anyone who has no end game 

How You Want the Chips to Fall: Food is food to you. You don't get what the big deal is about Sriracha. This is why an inbred boy-King killed you. 

Of course, there's the possibility that all this will sort itself out, and the world will continue in peaceful, Sriracha-soaked harmony until the end of time. But, it never hurts to think ahead. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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