Check out the label on your bottle of tabasco that’s in the back corner of your fridge. Yup, made in the USA – in Avery Island, Louisiana, USA to be exact. Just 30 minutes from Lafayette and on the way to New Orleans. It’s a “gotta go to” place for us – the tabasco lovers that we are!
This spicy pepper sauce was first conceived by Edmund McIlhenny in the late 1860s as a desperate attempt to add flavor to what was considered then to be a bland local cuisine. The sauce was such a hit with friends and family that the former banker decided to turn it into a business. To this day the same family owns and operates the Tabasco brand, it is still made right here on the island, and is sold to over 160 countries.
Entering the island cost $1.00 and the fee supports conservation and security on the island. In addition to the factory tour and the Tabasco Country Store there’s a Jungle Garden & Bird City, preserved nature sanctuaries – which we did not explore. We were on our way to New Orleans and had a 4-hour drive ahead of us.
We had heard that the pre-show film in the Visitor’s Centre was a little out-dated and the factory tour was merely a viewing gallery to observe the bottling and packaging operations – and we passed on those also.
But, the Tabasco Country Store was crowded and fun. We checked out the branded merchandise, dipped pretzels into all of the spicy samples, had 2 servings of chili samples and a taste of their two signature ice creams.
We’re thrilled to see that the Louisiana Tabasco business is prospering and expanding! Under construction is a new visitors centre and restaurant. The visitors centre will feature a self-guided tour through a museum, see the greenhouse and learn about the pepper growing process and glimpse into the barrel warehouse and processing plant – all parts of the facility unseen by the public for at least 35 years. The Creole-cottage cafeteria style restaurant will serve many of Louisiana’s favourites and provide guests with new ideas for including Tabasco pepper sauce in every meal!
By the way, both the Jalapeño and Raspberry Chipotle ice cream samples were delicious (don’t know if I could eat my usual big bowl of ice cream…), the Tabasco Coke had a heck of an after-bite and we bought some Tabasco Chili Starter and Spicy Sea Salt. We’ll go back when we have more time to check out both the new and old on Avery Island, LA.
On to New Orleans and the “paddy” day celebrations…