Ryan Smith at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Aug. 31, 2021.
Ryan Smith at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Aug. 31, 2021.

This post originally appeared in the Sept. 2 Morning Report. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox.

Twitter was aflutter over a freedom-loving rant at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. 

Ryan Smith, who helped cook up the idea for local San Diego delicacy Bitchin’ Sauce, was among the many who commented against a measure by the county supervisors to declare COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis

“You’re attacking the free speech,” said Smith. “It ends when we say it ends. And it ends now. And you will be removed from office for crossing the line on the constitution and our rights. As business owners, as parents we will not stand for what you’re trying to shove down our throats.”

“Guess I’m done buying Bitchin’ Sauce,” tweeted Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who is married to County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. 

Bitchin’ Sauce is a beloved San Diego dip that is sold at supermarkets all across the state. It’s kind of like hummus, but made from almonds. Initially, it had a niche fan base and was only sold at farmer’s markets. 

But as Kinsee Morlan reported on a Voice of San Diego podcast in 2017, Bitchin’ Sauce “quickly grew from a side project into a multi-million dollar business in Carlsbad.”  

Smith told Morlan that his mom was a vegan hippie, but that his dad was the kind of guy who liked smoked meats. He said he loved healthy vegan and vegetarian food, but was also a big hunter and meat eater. 

“If you were a venn diagram, then it would be like hippie one circle and redneck the other. And you’re that rare one percent of people who fit at the intersection of those two things?” Morlan asked. 

“Yeah,” Smith said. 

Smith was undeniably involved in the founding of Bitchin’ Sauce, but a family disagreement ultimately led him to be pushed out of the business. 

The disagreement centered on how much Smith’s brother should get paid and quickly spiraled out of control. Smith’s sister eventually had the locks changed on the company’s building while he was away, Smith told Morlan. 

“There was just sneaky stuff going on,” he said. 

Smith’s sister ended up with control of the company and he decided not to fight it. Smith called himself a Christian and pointed to a part in the Bible that says you shouldn’t take your siblings to court. That ultimately led him to walk away from the fight and start a new business. 

Smith hasn’t been involved with Bitchin’ Sauce for several years. 

On Twitter, the company responded to those who expressed their concerns. 

“None of our Bitchin’ owners/founders attended that meeting. The comments made by that individual were not affiliated with Bitchin’ Sauce in any way,” the company tweeted.

Will Huntsberry

Will Huntsberry is a senior investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego. He can be reached by email or phone at will@vosd.org...

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