American Made - Tabasco
American Made - Tabasco
Red Hot! White Hot! Blue Cool!
by Richard Harris, Brussels Belgium
What American product combines tradition, a slow approach, sustainability, good taste, an iconic logo, and international recognition? The McIlhenny Co’s Tabasco Pepper Sauce does! Tabasco sauce has become such a natural part of life that you might very well use it without even thinking about it just as you recognize its label without thinking about the simple genius of the logo design which has lasted unchanged for generations. As have the production methods. All peppers are still handpicked. Each pepper picker carries a little red stick (le petit bâton rouge) and if the pepper isn’t as red as the stick it isn’t picked but left to ripen. Fresh from the fields the harvested peppers are mashed, mixed with salt, (much of which comes from McIlhenny’s own Avery Island salt mine) and placed in white oak barrels (barrels that were previously used to age Jack Daniel’s whiskey). Then the barrels, just as for a fine sherry, are warehoused at a constant temperature for a three-year aging process. After being strained the liquid is mixed with vinegar, aged for an additional month and then bottled. Here we have no shortcuts, no chemical additions, no sleight of hand, just a time-tested, traditional method.
And beyond the production methods we also have a company that has been recycling since its inception. The first Tabasco bottles were recycled perfume bottles. Since then they have continued to use glass which is 100% recyclable. The white oak barrels are reused for up to fifty years and then have a third life as fencing and tables or wood chips. The mash solids are used as compost and for other commercial uses which not only increases the organic material in the soil but also reduces landfill usage by over 300 tons annually.
On a personal note, I have to admit that I prefer one of Tabasco’s newer versions: Tabasco Habanero Sauce. I guess I’m just a sucker for those extra Scoville units; the regular Tabasco is 2,500 to 5,000 SHU whereas the Habanero version is 7,000 to 12,000 SHU. But however hot you like it, take a moment this Fourth of July to appreciate a classic American product that is not only available in 168 countries and territories packaged in 22 languages or dialects, but has also appeared in such movies as Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and has flown with NASA to the International Space Station. Happy Fourth!