If you have a taste for spicy foods, you may be a fan of Tabasco®, Sriracha, or some of the other popular hot sauces on the market. But where did the condiment come from and why did people start putting it on their foods in the first place? Steve T. Hots & Potatoes, a beloved burger restaurant in Rochester, NY, famed for their proprietary hot sauce, shares a brief history of the spicy flavoring.
Chile peppers are believed to be one of the first plants cultivated during the agricultural revolution. Evidence suggests they were first harvested at least 6,000 years ago throughout areas of South America.
According to ads in surviving newspapers of the era, bottles of commercial hot sauce — made with cayenne pepper — first appeared in the U.S. in Massachusetts in 1807. In 1849, the first U.S. crop of tabasco peppers was grown. Tabasco peppers are unique for being "juicy" rather than dry inside, and this made them ideal for use in Colonel Maunsel White's tabasco sauce, which hit the market by 1859. A friend and colleague of the colonel later patented a similar sauce that became the "flavor of Louisiana."
20th Century & Beyond
Tabasco hot pepper sauce was not trademarked until 1909, but its success led to the creation of numerous competitors between the end of World War I and the start of the Great Depression, including Crystal Hot Sauce® and La Victoria® Salsa Brava®. After World War II, a Texas liquor store owner named David Pace started marketing Pace® Picante Sauce, which would eventually become a worldwide brand. Gradually, sauces grew hotter, and a wide selection is now available. Today, if you include "salsa," hot sauce is the most popular condiment in the nation; it overtook ketchup in 1992 and has remained the top seller ever since.
If you're a fan of hot sauce, stop by Steve T. Hots & Potatoes, a family-owned fast-food restaurant in Rochester, NY, featuring burgers, Zweigle® hot dogs, delicious Italian sausage links, and a zesty, homemade hot sauce you won't believe. Visit their website to check out their menu, or call (585) 429-6388 with any questions.