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Sunday, April 11, 2021

A hot time to celebrate: Tabasco maker marks 150 years of heating up taste buds

If you put Tabasco sauce on your morning eggs, this is a year to celebrate. In 1868 Edmund McIlhenny harvested his first tabasco pepper crop from which he created a piquant – read: hot – sauce to “enliven the flavors in foods for family and friends,” according to a news release.

One-hundred fifty years later, the same three ingredients that made his Tabasco Sauce – tabasco peppers, salt and vinegar – are aged and bottled by Edmund’s family on Avery Island, the process virtually unchanged.

McIlhenny Company, the maker of Tabasco Sauce, will mark this historic milestone with a yearlong celebration dedicated to the people who have made “that famous sauce Mr. McIlhenny makes” a staple on tables, indispensable in kitchens and an essential ingredient in classic and contemporary recipes worldwide.

The iconic red-capped bottle with the diamond label is sold in more than 185 countries and territories and labeled in 22 languages and dialects. This instantly recognizable pepper sauce is just as at home in main street diners, hole-in-the-wall dives and the finest dining establishments as it is in the home pantries, kitchen tabletops and handbags of food lovers all over the world.

“My family and all of us at McIlhenny Company are truly humbled by the love we’ve seen for Tabasco Sauce that has brought us to this incredible anniversary,” said Anthony A. Simmons, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company and fifth-generation McIlhenny family member. “I don’t know if my great-great-grandfather ever dreamed that his backyard start-up would have given rise to an entirely new food category. One hundred and fifty years later, I’m certain he’d be pleased to have brought so much great tasting food to so many people in so many places all around the world. It’s exciting to imagine where Tabasco Sauce will go and how it will be used over the next 150 years.”

The 150th anniversary celebration kicks off in New Orleans – where else? – with a limited engagement of Tabasco: A Burlesque Opera, a comedic burlesque dating to the late 19th century that hasn’t been performed in its entirety in more than a century. Tickets for the show, produced by the New Orleans Opera Association, are available to the general public at http://neworleansopera.org/operas for performances scheduled for Jan. 25-28, 2018.

The festivities continue on Jan. 28, as many of New Orleans’ top chefs and culinary institutions take part in the first ever Tabasco Week in partnership with the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission, which will commemorate the 300th anniversary of the city of New Orleans this year. The official holiday will include Tabasco Brand chef partnerships, exclusive menus, special dishes and more.

From New Orleans, the birthday party hits the road to celebrate the role of Tabasco Sauce in the global kitchen. McIlhenny Company will invite fans in New York, London, Shanghai and beyond to events big and small, where they can taste the exciting and unexpected ways the world’s top chefs and creative cooks use the pepper sauce. Through the magic of 360˚ video, event attendees the world over will be transported to Avery Island, where heirloom tabasco pepper fields thrive, mashed peppers age in oak barrels and the Tabasco Sauce factory still produces every single bottle of the world’s most famous sauce.

For those eager to celebrate at home, Tabasco Brand has invited chef and bartender friends from around the world to spotlight classic dishes and drinks that have made the sauce an icon, as well as popular, and sometimes surprising, foods that continue to make Tabasco Sauce indispensable today. Recipes will be released throughout the year on TABASCO.com and on TABASCO Brand social channels alongside snapshots of the rich and storied role that this pepper sauce has played in the history of food, American and global culture.

To learn more about the 150th anniversary of Tabasco Sauce, visit TABASCO.com or follow the conversation on social media with #TABASCO150.

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