Monday, March 30, 2009

Tabasco Goes to War!

Edward McIlhenny, a wealthy banker, grabbed his wife Mary Avery McIlhenny and fled from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and thence to Avery Island, her plantation in 1862. The Union soldiers were coming! One year later, the North took the island and destroyed it (the island was made of solid salt.)

When the Civil War was over, the McIlhennys returned from Texas to the plantation. about all that was left of it, were some capsicum hot peppers. Undaunted (and broke) McIlhenny grabbed them. He mixed the crush peppers with salt, let them sit for 30 days and then added "the best French wine vinegar" and bottled it. The friends he sent small bottles to liked it.

In 1868, only four years after being ousted from his home(s), he had a thriving business.

1898 Lord Kitchener's troops took Tabasco with them when they invaded Khartoum, Sudan.

1898 The Brits started a "Buy British!" campaign and banned it. Howls of protest from the House of Commons where dining tables featured it. The resulting fuss was dubbed "The Tabasco Tempest" but order was restored (and the bottles went back on the tables.) (Queen Elizabeth is said to like it on her lobster cocktail.)

Vietnam - Tabasco sent the troops 2-oz. bottles along with a recipe book - "Charley Ration Cookbook."

Operation Desert Storm - a tiny bottle was put into one of every three ration kits sent to the soldiers. It proved to be so popular that today the US military now packs it in every ration kit.

Ironic, isn't it, that a war forced a man out of his home -- but then his ingenuity and further wars made him rich? Scarlett O'Hara should have been so enterprising!

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