The History of Tabasco

There was a well-written book review in today's Wall Street Journal that I thought was worth sharing. It's about the history behind my favorite non-alcoholic liquid, Tabasco. The controversy behind the trademarking of the name alone makes it worth the read. There's a link below directly to the article as well as a few of the more interesting passages from the article itself.

The book is called McIlhenny's Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire. And any readers who want to take a closer look at the book itself, just click the book links to head over to Amazon.

Ingredients of a Family Fortune by Mark Robichaux (Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2007, page D11).

"...As the legend goes, a Louisiana banker named Edmund McIlhenny -- his family's Avery Island plantation in ruins after the Civil War -- took the seeds of a Mexican pepper given to him by a Confederate soldier and began a condiment business in 1869, the forerunner of today's company and the origins of a brand name now recognized throughout the world."

"Given Tabasco's three simple ingredients -- vinegar, pepper mash and salt -- competitors who had been using the Tabasco pepper in their own sauces were stunned in 1906 when the McIlhennys were awarded a trademark for the word "Tabasco." It was as if someone had claimed the word "mustard." ... The trademark was later successfully defended in court and today stands as an American business rarity: a trademark that is also the name of a generic ingredient. The McIlhennys have vigilantly enforced their rights ever since."

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