TORONTO — The McIlhenny Company’s Tabasco brand is celebrating 150 years in business — a rare milestone for a family-owned and operated company that has continued to find success in more than 195 markets around the world. Not much has changed since the company opened in 1868 on Avery Island in southern Louisiana.
“The Tabasco you’re getting today is what we’ve been making for 150 years,” says Harold “Took” Osborn, executive VP (head of Export), of the McIlhenny Company. “There’s very little difference [with the product]. That’s important to us and that’s important to chefs as well, because you know what you’re getting.”
Along with international Brand manager, Megan Lopez and international senior Brand manager, Betts Theriot, Osborn was recently in Toronto to promote and celebrate the milestone anniversary with a newly released hot sauce. Normally aged three years in oak barrels, the 150th edition Tabasco sauce has been aged for 15 years.
The trio also unveiled the company’s new sriracha sauce, which it hopes will compete with some of the industry’s other top brands. As a preservative-free product, the new sauce falls in line with the company’s ‘keep-it-simple’ mantra.
As a fifth-generation member of the McIlhenny family, Osborn still takes tremendous pride in the flavours his company has been churning out. Originally created as a sauce for oysters, soups and seafood, the product hasn’t changed much since it debuted in 1868.
“We could use preservatives instead of what we do — and, yes, that would save money — but we have to stand up and say, ‘no’,” explains Osborn. “That’s an important part of being a family company and [our] brand — you know what you’re getting and we stand by it.”
And now, the company continues to grow — thanks in part to millennials, who are modernizing and fusing their food.
“They’re interested in a clean-label ,” notes Osborn. “Our red sauce has three ingredients and our others are natural. We don’t like preservatives other than salt and vinegar. We don’t like to use things we can’t pronounce.”
Staying true to the product, dabbling in the fusion-food market and continuing to keep the business a family-run and operated company are among key company goals for the next 100 years, Osborn says. “There’s a lot of historical, institutional knowledge [required] in keeping the quality and that’s why it’s important for us to be a family company. We all love making Tabasco and we love making everyone’s food taste better.”