There’s about a 50/50 chance it’s the first hot sauce you ever tasted. Southerners like their Frank’s RedHot, but for people all over the country, that little bottle of Tabasco has defined “hot” for generations. It’s not the trendiest, but the company that started it all is still kicking out hundreds of thousands of bottles on the same land where the first bottles were produced well over 100 years ago.
The early history of tabasco sauce is a bit disputed. The folks who make it now, the McIlhenny family, may not have been the very first tabasco peppers on Avery Island, Louisiana. I’m not sure that matters very much because they were the first to enter mass production of the sauce. The McIlhenny company is still the only company to make Tabasco sauce, and they control plantations of peppers all over the world in order to do it.
Here’s how they do it
Here’s a factory tour from the people at Eater:
The thing that I noticed right away was the lack of people. I’ve actually toured food factories and there are generally a lot of people working. A lot of this kind of work takes human hands, but you don’t see those hands in this video. It makes me wonder if this factory is just a miracle of automation or if a lot of people didn’t sign releases.
Tabasco: the hot sauce you can feel good about
The nice thing for most people about Tabasco is that it’s not incredibly hot. It’s hot enough that you notice it. The faint-of-tongue may choose to avoid it, but if you’re a lover of spicy foods, a drop on your tongue won’t drive you screaming to the doctor’s office. Tabasco is a safe way to prove your bravado. Tabasco feels like a real hot sauce, unlike Sriracha, a far trendier sauce that’s mild and flavorful.
The same can’t be said about many of the hot sauces out there. There’s a whole segment of sauces based on ghost pepper or even pure capsicum that can only be taken in extremely tiny doses. They add pure heat to a recipe and are a bad choice for serving at dinner parties unless you want to lose friends. Trust me, voice of experience here folks.
No, Tabasco is a friendly sauce that’s just hot enough to make you seem like a superhero if you ingest it.
Living the Tabasco life
It seemed about a decade ago there was a rise in Tabasco-themed products. The company must have hired a marketing firm because all of a sudden the logo was on popcorn, salt, t-shirts, everything. That push seems to have petered out but Tabasco still lives on, thriving year after year because it’s just a good condiment to have. It makes bland, rubbery eggs palatable and adds a kick to a cocktail. And, it would seem, even makes its way into technology blogs like this one once in a while. Pretty impressive achievement for a humble pepper.