Company: McIlhenny Company
Current employees: 200
Address: Avery Island, LA 70513
Products at Costco: Costco
carries Tabasco Red Pepper
Sauce (a few different pack sizes
are available). In addition, Costco
carries the Tabasco Green
Jalapeño Sauce in the Costco
Business Center locations.
Comments about Costco:
“McIlhenny Company Tabasco
Brands continues a great partnership with Costco Wholesale
since the Price Club days (more
than 30 years). We both share a
similar mission in providing
Costco members and Tabasco
products at a great value. Costco
has been an excellent partner to
mutually grow our businesses
together.”—Tim Faley, regional
The fact that this is still a family-run company
was especially apparent when longtime CEO Paul
McIlhenny, whom employees affectionately referred
to as Mr. Paul, passed away in February.
“Mr. Paul started work [as a pepper picker in
1967] when my mother and father were here,” says
Rita Floris, a 38-year Tabasco veteran. “It was like
losing a family member.”
Known for spilling hot sauce on his shirts so
regularly that he wore bibs, Mr. Paul gave employees
grammar lectures and specialized in the lost art of
Cajun joke telling.
He was also very good at running the company.
It’s a hot market, and
Tabasco leads the field
By Fred Minnick
AS THE TABASCO tour guide gives me earplugs
and a hairnet, he tells me in a pleasant Cajun drawl,
“You’re about to clear your sinuses.”
The door swings open, and a light breeze carries
the spicy and unmistakable Tabasco bouquet. My
olfactory system burns. Soon I’m standing over a vat
of sloshing pepper juice that is emanating vapors so
strong I begin to understand why police carry pep-
per spray. I’m coughing and gasping, and my tear-
filled eyes see only the person in front of me.
The quick look is over, and the muggy Louisiana
air fills my lungs with welcome pepper-free oxygen.
A few coughs later, my sinuses are indeed cleared—
a formal welcome to Avery Island, Louisiana, a
2,200-acre private salt dome surrounded by bayous,
and home to Tabasco since 1868.
When New Orleans banker Edmund McIlhenny
married Mary Eliza Avery in 1859, he unknowingly
took the first step toward what would become, 150
years later, seven mainstay Tabasco flavors, a clothing line and hundreds of co-branded products.
Mary’s father, Daniel Dudley Avery, owned a
major sugarcane plantation on Petite Anse Island
(now Avery Island) and gained even more wealth
with salt mine discoveries during the Civil War.
Out of work after the Civil War, McIlhenny
started experimenting with tabasco peppers on his
father-in-law’s plantation, mashing and mixing
them with vinegar and salt. To this day, nobody
knows exactly how McIlhenny obtained this
Mexican-native pepper species, which grows its
fruit upright and ripens at different intervals. But he
started bottling his pepper sauce in used cologne
bottles and giving to friends and family in 1868.
In 1869, he took 658 bottles of “Petite Anse
Sauce” to sell in New Orleans. People were immediately taken with the flavor—a slightly floral and
fruity nose with a powerful heat.
Production continued to grow. Twenty years
later, McIlhenny manufactured 41,472 bottles of
what was now simply labeled as “Tabasco” and used
the railroad to ship to grocers throughout the United
States. About 200 bottles were shipped to Europe.;
McIlhenny brought aboard his sons—Rough
Rider John and Arctic explorer Edward—forging a
long family line that still runs the McIlhenny
Company, the parent company of Tabasco.
The pick of
This Tabasco pepper mash
will age for three years at
Tabasco’s Avery Island,
Tablet or smartphone? Scan or
click the image for a video about
how Tabasco Red Pepper Sauce