Mcllhenny Company has been making Tabasco products on Avery Island since it was invented in 1868. After serving in the Civil War, Edward Mcllhenny had no banking job to return to. He decided that the south needed something flavorful to add to their bland food, so he invented Tabasco Pepper Sauce. The company is still owned and operated by Mcllhenny descendants. Also, descendants of employees continue to work and live in employee housing on Avery Island.
The factory tour has eight components throughout the compound. We learned about how peppers are grown, mashed, aged, bottled, and shipped around the world. The salt used on top of the barrels as part of the aging process was, until recently, mined from below the compound. Avery Island is actually a giant salt dome that extends eight miles below earth’s surface.
Learning doesn’t stop with the Tabasco factory tour. Included in the price of admission is a drive through Jungle Gardens, a 170 acre bird sanctuary and botanical garden. Jungle Gardens was a wildlife conservation effort started by Edward Mcllhenny to help save the snowy egret from extinction. In 1895, the bird was being hunted for its plumage, so Edward captured eight wild egrets, raising them and their hatchlings. After releasing them, Avery Island has become an annual stop on their migration route.
We left Avery Island, four hours later, with a whole new appreciation for Tabasco products. I think we are now fans for life.