The History of TABASCO® Brand
The Story Behind The Sauce
The diet of the Reconstruction South was bland and monotonous, especially by Louisiana standards. So Edmund McIlhenny decided to create a pepper sauce to give the food some flavor and excitement.
Edmund McIlhenny’s recipe book
Sowing The Seeds
A food lover and avid gardener, Edmund McIlhenny was given seeds of Capsicum frutescens peppers that had come from Mexico or Central America. On Avery Island in South Louisiana, he sowed the seeds, nurtured the plants and delighted in the spicy flavor of the peppers they bore. Many years later field hands used a little red stick, or 'le petite bâton rouge,' to measure the ripeness of the peppers. Staying true to history of TABASCO® Brand, we still use it today to ensure the quality of our harvest.
"That Famous Sauce Mr. McIlhenny Makes"
McIlhenny grew his first commercial pepper crop in 1868. The next year, he sent out 658 bottles of sauce at one dollar apiece wholesale to grocers around the Gulf Coast, particularly in New Orleans. He labeled it “Tabasco,” a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.” McIlhenny secured a patent in 1870, and TABASCO® Sauce began its journey to set the culinary world on fire. Sales grew, and by the late 1870s, he sold his sauce throughout the U.S. and even in Europe.
A Timeless Taste
McIlhenny packaged the sauce in small cologne-type bottles with sprinkler fitments, which he then corked and sealed in green wax. The sprinkler fitment was important because his pepper sauce was concentrated and best used when sprinkled, not poured. Though we no longer seal our bottles with wax, the sauce inside is every bit as pungent as the one McIlhenny first bottled back in 1868.
Barrel-Aged For Bold Flavor
Today, nearly 150 years later, TABASCO® Sauce, the basic recipe, the process by which it’s made, and the ingredients remain virtually unchanged. Now the aging process for the mash is longer – up to three years in white oak barrels – and the vinegar is high-quality distilled vinegar.
5 Generations Of The History Of TABASCO® Brand
TABASCO® Sauce is still made on Avery Island, Louisiana, to this day. In fact, about half of the company’s 200 employees actually live on Avery Island, with many of their parents and grandparents having worked and lived there as well. Anthony “Tony” Simmons, the current President and CEO, is the seventh McIlhenny family member in a chain of direct descendants who have strived to preserve the legacy and traditions of the company’s creator.
Anthony Simmons - President & CEO
8 Varieties, Endless Flavor
We’ve come a long way from our beginnings in 1868. While the Original Red Pepper Sauce stays true to the history of TABASCO® Brand, the TABASCO Family of Flavors® features 8 varieties of high-quality pepper sauces. From mild to wild, there’s something for everyone.
Preserving Our Heritage
At McIlhenny Company, we see a future that is bright and full of opportunities. But those opportunities are only possible if we are good stewards of our natural resources, so that they will be here for generations to come. As a company that is nearly 150 years old, we want to build a business that is sustainable for the next 150 years.Learn More
A Global Pepper Sauce Phenomenon
Labeled in 25 languages and dialects, sold in over 195 countries and territories, added to soldiers’ rations and put on restaurant tables around the globe, TABASCO® Brand is the most famous pepper sauce in the world.