Tabasco Sauce: 7 things you didn’t know about the classic condiment

A closer look at the spicy sauce that was born in the South

Courtesy of Bigstock

Tabasco sauce isn’t just a Southern staple; it’s beloved the world over and has been a mainstay on tables and countertops for 150 years. Developed in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny on Avery Island, Louisiana, Tabasco continues to be produced there by his descendants. Made from only three ingredients—tabasco peppers, salt, and vinegar—the spicy sauce proves the old adage: Simple is better.

  • Tabasco makes eyes water in 195 countries. This means it’s more pervasive than McDonald’s, which can only be found in 118 countries and territories. Tabasco labels are printed in twenty-five languages and dialects.
  • Tabasco was first sold for a dollar a bottle. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to a whopping seventeen bucks today.
  • Tabasco is aged for three years in white oak barrels previously filled with another Southern classic: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. But the only kick comes from the peppers; before the sauce is poured in, the top layer of wood is removed to prevent flavor contamination.
  • Avery Island is a popular tourist destination. Each year, more than 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage for tours of the factory and museum, as well as Tabasco cooking classes.
  • Avery Island’s Restaurant 1868 ventures far beyond Bloody Marys and buffalo wings with a full menu of Tabasco-inspired items, such as pork boudin glazed with Tabasco Spicy Pepper Jelly on a biscuit and cheesecake with a Tabasco Raspberry Chipotle–infused chocolate sauce.
  • Tabasco sauce has traveled the world—and beyond. It’s been served on Air Force One, as well as aboard space shuttles.
  • So beloved is Tabasco sauce, it even inspired an opera. Originally performed in 1894, the New Orleans Opera revived George W. Chadwick’s Tabasco: A Burlesque Opera in January 2018 to celebrate the opera association’s seventy-fifth season and Tabasco’s 150th birthday. The tongue-in-cheek production tells the story of a grand pasha who sees red when his personal chef prepares a boring dish. The solution? Tabasco sauce.

This article appears in our Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Southbound.