Tabasco Sauce
evemilla/istockphoto

26 Things You Didn’t Know About Tabasco

View Slideshow
Tabasco Sauce
evemilla/istockphoto
A lot of hot red pepper.
walrusmail/istockphoto

It’s a Brand Not a Generic Term

Tabasco is, in fact, the brand name of the American-made product, a very specific red-pepper sauce that is produced by the McIlhenny Co. in Louisiana.       


Related: Can You Handle These 15 Hot and Spicy Dishes? 


Tabasco Sign
©TripAdvisor

It’s Not a New Trend

If you think Tabasco is a relatively recent introduction to the culinary world, think again. Tabasco traces its roots to 19th-century southern Louisiana, when businessman Edmund McIlhenny founded the company in 1868 on Avery Island.

Tabasco Farm
©TripAdvisor

It Continues Its Connection to the Past

The connection to Edmund McIlhenny — and Avery Island — is not simply an historical footnote but rather still quite relevant, as the company site notes: “To this day, the company is still family-owned and -operated on that very same island.”

Tabasco Barrels
©TripAdvisor

Its Home Is Famous

The McIlhenny family has made Tabasco sauce on Avery Island for some five generations. As the company shares, “Built on a salt dome, it’s a mysteriously beautiful place where the red peppers grow, the factory hums, and abundant wildlife can be seen in Jungle Gardens.” Tripadvisor even places the company’s factory tour on its top five things to do on the island.   

 


For more great senior living tips, please sign up for our free newsletters.


1900 Tabasco Hot Sauce Ad
Ebay

Its Creation Was Spurred by the Desire to 'Spice Things Up'

As the company site also shares, “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.”   


Related:Surprising Comfort Food From Every State

Tabasco Plants
©TripAdvisor

It Began in the Garden

The company also shares that McIlhenny was a “food lover and avid gardener.” A gift of some seeds of Capsicum frutescens peppers (believed to be from Mexico or Central America) were planted on Avery Island, thrived and McIlhenny “delighted in the spicy flavor of the peppers they bore.” 

Red Stick
Sabine F./Yelp

Its Crops Are Tested With a Unique Tool

To measure the ripeness of the peppers, the company today continues to use a “little red stick” or “le petite bâton rouge.” This quality-assurance tool dates back to some of the earliest field hands.

Tabasco Blending Process
©TripAdvisor

Its Introduction Was Quite Successful

McIlhenny grew his first commercial crop in 1868 and by the following year would send out 658 bottles of the sauce (at $1 each, wholesale) to Gulf Coast grocers, especially those in New Orleans. He labeled his creation, “Tabasco,’ a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean ‘place where the soil is humid’ or ‘place of the coral or oyster shell."    

 

Related: Can You Guess What Year These Popular Food Brands Made Their Debut?


Tabasco Throughout Years
Kieu N./Yelp

It’s Got Its Own Patent

McIlhenny secured a patent in 1870, and Tabasco was on its way. As notable for its age is its easily recognizable diamond-shaped label, singular in its appeal for its straightforwardness. 

Tabasco Queen
Metin A./Yelp

Its Reach Became Global

Sales continued to grow — and within the decade, McIlhenny was selling his sauce throughout America and also in Europe. Today, the brand can be found in more than 180 countries and territories across the globe. In a most prestigious note, the company also holds a Royal Warrant, granted in 2009 as “By Appointment to: HM The Queen, Supplier of Tabasco Sauce,” a mark of recognition of individuals and companies whose products are supplied to the queen or the Prince of Wales.

History tabasco
Andrea H./Yelp

Its Packaging Was Unique

At the beginning, the company shares, the sauce was packaged 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.” Today, technical innovations allow the same flavor to be presented without the wax process.

Aged in barrels
Christie L./Yelp

Its Process Has Evolved

Tabasco has long been made with peppers, vinegar and salt — and nothing else. That has not changed, though the company says that today the artisanal process has been adapted. “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.”   


Related:  Taste Test: Which Store-Bought BBQ Sauce Is the Best?

Tabasco Sauces
©TripAdvisor

It's Grown Into a Whole Lineup

The Tabasco Brand Original Red Pepper Sauce ruled the roost for some 125 years. Then, its “family of flavors” began expanding in 1993 with the introduction of Green Jalapeño Sauce, which “pairs well with dips and Mexican cuisine.” Among its other options — billed as ranging “from mild to wild” — are Chipotle Pepper Sauce, Cayenne Garlic Sauce, Buffalo Style Hot Sauce and its “hottest sauce yet,” Scorpion Sauce. This fiery option debuted in 2017 and features the scorpion pepper, which holds an incredibly potent rating — nearing 2 million — on the Scoville scale (a heat-index rating system that puts this rating near its scorching top).

Tabasco Gear
Sabine F./Yelp

Its Maker Is Committed to Sustainability

The McIlhenny Co. notes it’s committed to being “good stewards of our natural resources, so that they will be here for generations to come … We are constantly striving to identify new practices that will improve our business and reduce our impacts.” Among the actions are commitments toward reducing water usage, supporting its farmers (multi-year contracts and technical support), recycling, and thoughtful sourcing.

Crawfish Tabasco
©TripAdvisor

Its Properties Are Health-Conscious

Tabasco can be part of a healthy diet. As Self.com reports on the low-sodium, low-calorie sauce, Tabasco has "zero artificial sketchiness. That beautiful color isn’t dye — it’s the true color of the peppers."

Tabasco Sauce 1905
Ebay

It Also Revs up Metabolism

Self.com also reports that Tabasco can help, “stoke your metabolism. Some studies have shown that capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their spicy kick, creates enough heat to raise your body temperature, which helps you burn more calories — approximately an 8 percent bump — immediately following a meal.” 


Tabasco Pepper Sauce and Oysters
Ebay
Tabasco Culture
Rebecca W./Yelp

It Merits a Show

Forget those compilation shows that fill the food channels on TV these days. The history and lore of McIlhenny’s Tabasco is so rich that “National Geographic Explorer” devoted an entire show to the sauce in 1986, traveling to Avery Island to get a firsthand look at the making of the legacy condiment for its “Tabasco Tradition” episode.

Tabasco Store
Sabine F./Yelp

It’s Got Its Own Merch

Tabasco certainly has its fans, and the most devoted of those fans proudly display their allegiance. Making that easy is the Tabasco Country Store, where online shoppers can pick up not only products such as gift sets but also mugs, aprons, ornaments, T-shirts, beach towels and more. Our fave? Think it might have to be the Tabasco Makeup Bag ($15), featuring a decidedly glam depiction of the sauce. 

Tabasco sauce around the world
Sarah S./Yelp

It’s Been on the Silver Screen

The original Tabasco Brand Red Pepper Sauce has appeared in a pair of vintage James Bond movies, “The Man With The Golden Gun” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” It made such an impression among Bond devotees that it’s sold on a fan site known as James Bond Lifestyle.


Tabasco Art
Andrea H./Yelp
Tabasco Fan Art
Sarah S./Yelp

It’s Been in (Outer) Space

Tabasco sauce has been in space, courtesy of NASA. As NPR reported, “Astronauts may have a particular affinity for Tabasco sauce in space because their sense of smell and taste is distorted.” PBS reports have echoed the sentiments. 


Military Tabasco
Karen P./Yelp

It's Also Popular with Military Personnel

First there were bland C-rations, and those were eventually followed by the bland meal ready-to-eat (MRE), and along the way Tabasco has earned a devoted following among service personnel. Looking to break into the military market, the company developed a C-Ration cookbook in the 1960s that included a 2-ounce bottle of Tabasco. In the '90s, the Defense Department began including ⅛-ounce bottles of the sauce in MREs.


Bloody Mary Cocktail
THEPALMER/istockphoto

It’s Often Tapped for an Authentic Bloody Mary

There are probably as many recipes for a Bloody Mary as there are fans for the brunch-favorite cocktail. We’ll stick to the original via the Classic Bloody Mary recipe featured on the Tabasco Brands website that makes enough to serve six. Cheers!


Related: 18 Over-the-Top Bloody Marys Across America

Chocolate and prune Brownies
Quanthem/istockphoto
Tabasco Museum
Chris M./Yelp

It’s Possible to Experience It All Firsthand

For those who still can’t get enough of Tabasco, they can head to Avery Island. The company has announced that the “Avery Island Fan Experience, including the Tabasco Factory Tour, is open to the public.” (Though the bottling line is not accessible at this time). With safety in mind, the company’s COVID-19 safety procedures/precautions are fully detailed on its site, which also noted reservations are recommended and cash is not accepted for this Louisiana tourist destination. Visitors can cap the trip with a casual meal from Restaurant 1868, where options include Tabasco 7-Spice Chile, Crawfish Etouffee featuring Tabasco and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo featuring … well, you know.