Pásame la Salsa! A Dash or Two of Hot Sauce History
For most people in the Spanish-speaking world, hot sauce is just one of those staples on the table, like salt or pepper. But where did Cholula come from? What’s the story behind Tabasco? What about lesser-known varieties like Tapatío?
Read on for a few interesting facts about three popular hot sauces: it’ll make for interesting conversation next time you’re with friends at your local taco joint.
Time to brush up on your Mexican history: Cholula (the hot sauce) is named after Cholula, the oldest city in Mexico that’s still inhabited today. That’s 2,500 years old, if you’re counting.
Before breaking out into the big time—Cholula is now licensed by Jose Cuervo—the sauce was produced at a smaller scale in Jalisco for three generations. Later, after gaining popularity in Mexico, Cholula hit grocery store shelves (in Austin, Texas, quite fittingly) in 1989. And the rest is history.
Today, you’ll find five varieties of the chili-based sauce at the supermarket: Original, Green Pepper, Chili Garlic, Chili Lime, and Chipotle.
Tabasco peppers plus vinegar plus salt: that’s the simple but ingenious recipe behind this hot sauce served around the world.
Many have the idea that Tabasco comes from Mexico. It’s an easy mistake to make. The tabasco chili pepper itself takes its name from its place of origin: the Mexican state of Tabasco. But the sauce? That was invented by a banker from Maryland.
Yes, you read that correctly. In 1868, Edmund McIlhenny started producing the hot sauce in Louisiana. Fun fact to share next time you’re dousing your food with the spicy sauce? When McIlhenny was first getting started, he used old cologne bottles to share the sauce with family and friends (A tastemaker and a pioneer in recycling? This is our kind of guy).
“Es una salsa… muy salsa!” That’s the tagline for Tapatío, a popular hot sauce produced in California. But the founders are Mexican.
If you’re familiar with Mexican colloquialisms, you’ll know exactly where they’re from: “Tapatío” is a word used to describe people from Guadalajara, and that’s what gave the sauce its name.
Red peppers are, of course, the main ingredient. But there’s a special combination going on here that gives Tapatío a certain zest. And fire: according to the Scoville rating, it’s hotter than Sriracha.
You May Also Like: