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Hot Sauce History - A Lip-smacking, Mouth-watering Story  
by: Chris McCarthy

The hot sauce history is the history of enterprising men fired by the fiery chilly into crafting the hot sauce that is a rage among the gourmet lovers. The hot sauce history also chronicles their ventures to create ingenious hot sauce variations that grace almost every cuisine in the world.

Sauce historians have gathered information mainly from the labels on the hot sauce bottles housed in private collections. Hot sauce advertisements obtained from city directories and newspapers are other resources. Information in general is sparse, but whatever are available, points to a rich and varied hot sauce history.

The flaming hot sauce had a humble beginning in the form of cayenne sauces in Massachusetts way back in1807.

1849 is a landmark year in the history of hot sauce. The first sauce import took place in 1849 when England’s Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce made its way into the USA and Colonel White raised the first chronicled Tabasco chilly crop.

Colonel White prepared the world’s first Tabasco sauce and advertised it. Hot sauce was now well and truly geared towards commercialization.

A variation of the hot sauce came out in 1860 when J. McCollick & Co. of New York City produced a Bird Pepper Sauce.

But the hot sauce really captured the imagination of the public with Edward McIlhenny’s ripened Tabasco hot sauce in 1868.

1870 and 1906 are high watermarks in hot sauce history whence McIlhenny secured a patent on the Tabasco variety of hot sauce and the McIlhenny clan trademarked the Tabasco brand, respectively.

Hot sauce marketing broke new grounds with Chicago-based William Railton’s 1877 advertisement copy for his Chilly Sauce, which positioned it as an exotic variety with medicinal benefits.

The legendary Poppie’s Hotter ‘n Hell Pepper Sauce had its moorings in south Louisiana under Poppie Devillier in 1893.

The success of the Tabasco hot sauce opened the floodgates to experimentation with various flavors. Thus in 1916, Charles Erath of New Orleans produced the Red Hot Creole Pepper Sauce; in 1923 Crystal Hot Sauce made its debut courtesy Baumer Foods, Louisiana; in 1941 the La Victoria Sales Company created a stir with red taco sauce, green taco sauce and enchilada sauce.

These experimentations were not confined to only the entrepreneurs. Homemakers too were dabbling their hands at hot sauces, as evident from recipes for barbecue and curry sauces found in “Mrs. Hill’s New Cookbook”. Hot sauce had spread like wild fire.

The hot sauce juggernaut rolled on with David Pace’s picante sauce, made in 1947 and Chris Way’s Dat'l Do It Sauce and Hellish Relish, in the beginning of the 1980s.

Hot sauce history says that Los Angeles leads the way when it comes to hot sauce consumption, with 3.3 million gallons consumed in 1990.

Modern hot sauce history is replete with manufacturers like Sauces & Salsas Ltd, Le Saucier, the first dedicated sauce and hot sauce retail outlet and Chi-Chi’s vying to grab a share of the consumers’ appetite. Hot sauce surely sells like hot cakes.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.