Tabasco is probably one of the furthest reaching pieces of culinary Louisiana. You can find Tabasco at nearly every grocery store, Chipotle, and even prepackaged military rations. Tabasco was first made in the 1860s and is now sold in more than 160 countries. And it’s all made on Avery Island in south Louisiana.
Avery Island is actually a large salt dome island in the Louisiana marshes. When Edmund McIlhenny decided to make his own pepper sauce, he used peppers that he grew on Avery Island and salt from the island. The simple formula of red peppers, salt, and vinegar was such a hit that McIlhenny dropped his work as a banker and devoted his work to his pepper sauce.
The Tabasco website says that Tabasco is “a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.” It’s a fitting word, especially given how humid south Louisiana is.
Today Tabasco, comes in seven different varieties and is made in much of the same way that it was 140 years ago. Avery Island has a visitor center where you can observe how Tabasco is made and sample everything Tabasco related–even Tabasco flavored jelly beans! The island also has a 170 acre garden filled with exotic plants that visitors can explore. It’s a wonderful place to see a piece of Louisiana history.