AVERY ISLAND, La. (KLFY) — The world-famous Tabasco Hot Sauce has been made on Avery Island for almost six generations since 1868. The red peppers grow on a salt dome with the Tabasco factory nearby and wildlife can be seen in Jungle Gardens.
Harold Osborn, President/CEO of McIlhenny Company, said, “From this little, small area in Acadiana we export to, there’s not a state in the union or country in the world that you don’t see Tabasco.”
That small area is Avery Island, home to the recipe for the Tabasco Original Red Pepper Sauce passed down from generation to generation. Tabasco brand products are made by the McIlhenny Company, founded by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868.
“He was a New Orleans banker and he came out here with his wife’s family who were the Avery’s and started making Tabasco and it was the original cottage industry,” explained Osborn. “He did it in his garage or back then it was a pigeonnier. He would make it. First, it was ground up dried peppers that you would put on things and then he had such a good crop one year that he started pickling it, in essence, putting vinegar in it, then started aging it for 3 years and then ended up with the recipe that we have today which is aged for three years, the Tabasco peppers and the salt from Avery Island.”
Fast forward to today, Tabasco products are exported to 190 plus countries and territories and also, in 26 different languages.
“It’s just slowly grown,” added Osborn. “It’s a very small company. We’re not very big. Less than 300 people work in the company worldwide.”
About 120,000 people a year visit the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island including all the way from Mongolia, China, Australia, Europe, South America and other countries.
Christian Brown, Agriculture Manager with the McIlhenny Company, said, “The Avery Island experience, you can really come out here and spend a full day between the Jungle Gardens, walking around there, driving there and then coming to see the production side of Tabasco. A lot of people came here back when they were in 5th, 6th grade on a school trip, and they’ve been there and done that, but we’ve changed a lot of the tour and modernized it and there’s a lot more to do now. It’s really a great experience that we have out here.”
The Avery Island Fan Experience, including the Tabasco Factory Tour, is open to the public.