Fun Facts to Know About Tabasco Hot Sauce

A bottle of McIlhenny's Tabasco sauce amidst bright red tabasco peppers
Getty Images/Philip Gould

When you open a bottle of Tabasco Pepper Sauce, your nose is immediately met with the unique aroma that is iconic of this sauce. The smell is reminiscent of vinegar followed by a piquantness -- if you enjoy that spicy kick, you can't smell Tabasco without your mouth watering. 

Tabasco is among the most popular hot sauces around the world. NPR wrote a great description about the popularity of Tabasco: "It is to hot sauce what Kleenex is to tissue and Xerox is to copying." If you love hot sauce then chances are that there is always a bottle of Tabasco in your kitchen.

It's difficult to imagine a breakfast skillet, hash browns, Bloody Marys, pizza, chicken wings, Cajun food, fried rice, and many other foods without some drops of Tabasco sauce. It is a fascinating flavor enhancer with an even more fascinating history. 

Next time you reach for the bottle of Tabasco you'll remember these fascinating facts as an icebreaker any foodie will love.

Fast and Fun Tabasco Facts

  • Edmund McIlhenny first produced Tabasco sauce in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana. The sauce is still produced in the same location as it was in the 1800s. Additionally, the process remains pretty much the same, of course, the facilities have undergone modernisation throughout the years.  
  • The sauce was named after the chili variety, which is used to produce it, known as Capsicum frutescens or the tabasco pepper. McIlhenny was gifted seeds from this pepper which he then planted on Avery Island to grow and produce the Tabasco hot sauce. It is believed that those seeds were brought from Mexico or Central America. 
  • To distribute the sauce in the early years, McIlhenny used discarded cologne bottles. 
  • As the years went by and Tabasco become more popular the McIlhenny's needed to expand their chili growing fields. Though some of the peppers are still grown on Avery Island, the company now has growers throughout Latin America. Regardless of the place it was grown, the seeds all originate on Avery Island then are transported to the growing fields around the different countries. The peppers are always hand-picked in the same manner they were by the original creator, Edmund McIlhenny. 
  • After being picked from the fields (around the world), the chilies make their way back to the production facilities on Avery Island. There they are turned into a mash with salt (that comes from Avery Island) which is then stored in white oak barrels. The barrels are sealed then a layer of salt is poured over the top, and then they are allowed to age for three years before proceeding. After being aged, the mash is quality checked then taken to machines to be mixed with vinegar and stirred for about a month. After the mixing the pulp and seeds are separated from the sauce, then it is poured into the jars, labeled, and ready for distribution. 
  • The sauce is now sold in over 160 countries around the world and the labels are translated into 22 languages and dialects. Tabasco is even part of the official space shuttle menus and given to American overseas soldiers in their MREs or meals ready to eat. 
  • One of the many great things to love about Tabasco Pepper Sauce is the natural ingredients list that includes three simple ingredients: vinegar, red pepper, and salt. Since there is no preservative this can cause the sauce to separate, and hence the need to shake it before using.
  • Tabasco is certified Kosher, Halal, and gluten free. In each teaspoon of Tabasco, there are 0 calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. But it does contain 35 mg (1% DV) of sodium. According to the company "...other hot sauces can contain four to five times more sodium than TABASCO® Original Red Sauce per serving..."
  • The original Tabasco sauce has a Scoville rating of 2,500-5,000 SHU. The habanero variety is the spiciest in the collection but the original is the second spiciest.
  • According to the Tabasco website, "A 2-oz. bottle of our Original Red Sauce contains at least 720 drops." (There are 60 drops per teaspoon; 3 teaspoons per tablespoon; 2 tablespoons per fluid ounce and 2 fluid ounces per bottle).