I’ve been reading a book about the world famous Tabasco Co. entitled “McIlhenny’s Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire“. This is a BIG deal because I am a notorious non-reader. Let’s just say, it takes a certain kind book to draw me in. I picked it up from our local library to find out more about the company that made itself a household name worldwide without the help of shareholders or, besides a relative blink of the eye, have anyone but family members run the behemoth for close to two centuries. Lastly, it’s a company that had its start less than three hours from New Orleans and one that I knew very little about.
McIlhenny’s Gold gives the reader an inside view of the unique, quirky and often brilliant McIlhenny family members that had a hand in the company’s improbable success. There’s also cool facts like, Tabasco’s second CEO John Avery (the founder’s oldest son) was good friends with Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and even served with Teddy as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War. John later used this relationship with the president to hoist the family’s image to the status of American royalty when he held a never again repeated ball in the family’s salt mine, hundreds of feet below ground. He hired out a company to carve tables, chairs, decor and even a statue out of salt. Salt mine, you ask? Thought Tabasco was only about pepper sauce? Yeah, Avery Island sits on top of literally a mountain of salt. It is rumored that the salt found beneath Avery Island goes deeper than Mt. Everest is high. That is, if 7,000 TONS of salt were mined every day, it would most likely run out after Earth’s extinction! That’s a lot of salt.
One more. The Tabasco Co. is the first company in the U.S. to set up a communist-like “worker village”. A model coal mining companies later used, famously, for their workers. They sorta had a lot of firsts for this country.
Needless to say, the fam and I took a trip to McIlhenny’s Tabasco factory on Louisiana’s Avery Island this week. Here is a short video I did from our factory tour.