Today, Mark Robichaux of the Wall Street Journal examines a new book, titled McIlhenny’s Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built The Tabasco Empire and it looks like an interesting read. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Tabasco, Robichaux explains:

“Edmund McIlhenny began bottling and selling E. McIlhenny Tabasco Pepper Sauce in the late 1860s. Some of the first bottles he sold were bought by Union soldiers still billeted in the South and enamored of the sauce that lent a dash of spice to bland Army rations.”


While I can see how Tabasco could tremendously improve the flavor of MRE’s in the 1860’s, I’m only a lukewarm fan of Tabasco, despite being a hot sauce fanatic. However, Robichaux’s article makes an interesting and valid point about why Tabasco sauce has prospered:

“The primary reason that Tabasco has dominated the hot-sauce category is the consistency of its flavor and spiciness. When I talked with Louisiana’s celebrated chef Paul Prudhomme for an article I wrote about McIlhenny Co. in this newspaper several years ago, he told me that other sauces could be unpredictably too hot–or too tart or too salty. ‘I may use 10 drops of Tabasco, but I can trust that 10 drops,’ Mr. Prudhomme said.”

This is logic I cannot argue with, as I have found Tabasco to be incredibly consistent, always tasting the same from batch to batch, which cannot be said about a lot of hot sauces. Robichaux goes on to note the sauce is still made the same way it was in the 1800’s:

“Though the company now offers several flavors of Tabasco, including a Sweet & Spicy variety, not much has changed about making the classic sauce over the past 138 years: hand-picked peppers a particular shade of red, mixed with salt and vinegar, and aged three years in wooden barrels that formerly held Jack Daniels whiskey.”


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