Appreciating all that makes America special

Food: Tabasco Sauce

 

Tabasco Sauce is sold in 160 countries around the world. Not bad for a business that's been in the same family now for six generations. Uploaded by indianapublicmedia.org.

This is the third hot sauce to make this list (Texas Pete, April 16, 2009, and Blind Betty’s, February 27, 2010), so you can tell our family likes spicy foods. Apparently, we’re not alone; the McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana produces more than 700,000 bottles of the palate pleaser every day.

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It’s not unusual for a business to begin as a family enterprise, and this one started from the garden of Edmund McIlhenny after he was given some tabasco pepper seeds from Latin America. He grew the plants, created the sauce, and gave some to family and friends. They loved it. “Got to have more of that famous sauce Mr. McIlhenny makes,” they said. So Edmund ordered some cologne bottles, used them for his product, and started selling to local retail stores.

That was in the late 1860s. What’s remarkable is that the McIlhenny’s never sold out to a bigger firm. Today, Paul McIlhenny is the sixth family member to run the company which still operates on Avery Island. In fact, about half the company’s employees live on the island, and many are the descendants of people who’ve work for the McIlhenny clan for generations. The company has made one major accommodation to changing times — they’ve dodged hurricanes so long that they’ve finally moved some of their growing fields for peppers to Central America. But the seeds are all still grown on Avery Island.

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