The History of Hot Sauce in Louisiana

When I was interested in starting Merfs Condiments, I wanted to pay homage to my humble beginnings in South Louisiana by honoring the greatest food in the United States. I wanted to create hot sauce that was thick and chunky and very flavorful, and by drawing on the experience I gained growing up in such a culture, I was able to write recipes that I hope reflect greatly on my home state.

And now, for a little about the history of hot sauce in Louisiana:

In 1849, the first crop of tabasco red chilies was recorded—Colonel Maunsell White had grown two acres on his Deer Range Plantation. He made the first hot sauce from these chiles and put it up for sale in 1859. He also shared the chilies and the recipe with his friend Edmund McIlhenny, who promptly planted a full crop on his plantation at Avery Island, Louisiana. The Civil War caused McIlhenny and his family to flee to Texas, and upon their return they discovered all but a few tabasco chili plants destroyed. They used the remaining seeds to replant the entire crop, and Edmund started experimenting with making hot sauce. He strained the chilies, mixed them with vinegar and salt, and aged the sauce in barrels. He sent out 350 samples in cologne bottles to potential wholesalers and orders for the sauce started pouring in!

In 1893 Popie Devillier developed his legendary Hotter ‘n Hell hot sauce. He was Choctaw and Cajun, and he created the sauce blending eight spices, including cloves. It was a slow cooked hot sauce that could be used as a marinade and injected into meat and wild game. Hotter ‘n Hell was passed down the family tree for 90 years until 1992, when the recipe was finally marketed and sold. It was an instant hit and Popie’s was sold to Café Companies and is now made and produced in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1923, Baumer Foods began manufacturing my favorite, Crystal Hot Sauce. In 1928, Bruce Foods started making Original Louisiana Hot Sauce. Both of these brands are in existence today, and are very popular both in Louisiana and elsewhere.

There are many other hot sauces that started in Louisiana, including Frank’s Red Hot, which got its popularity and fame on chicken wings in Buffalo, New York.

That’s all, folks!

Source: Dewitt, Dave and Evans, Chuck. (1996) The Hot Sauce Bible. Freedom, California. The Crossing Press, Inc. Pg 172-176.