The history of hot sauce: Thousands of years in the making


If you enjoy a good hot sauce, you’re definitely in good company. It turns out people have likely been making and enjoying hot sauce in some variety or another for thousands of years. To understand the roots of hot sauce, we need to step back in time about 2,000 years ago to Central America. That’s where hot peppers grow wild, and where people likely first ground the peppers up, added water, and turned it into a paste. Historians suspect people then ate the hot sauce paste with tortillas.

By the time explorers arrived from Spain, several types of chile peppers were already being grown. Locals didn’t have things like oil or onions, though, so it’s suspected Europeans introduced them to the region. Likely in a quest to find new spices around the world, the Spanish then took chile peppers to Europe, and they quickly spread from there. That’s why you’ll now find different varieties of chile peppers and hot sauce all around the globe. As for the US, Tabasco sauce was the tipping point when it comes to hot sauce popularity. Once Tabasco sauce hit the market in the 1800s, it quickly spread into restaurants and hotels, making it the go-to hot sauce and a household name. To this day it’s still one of the most recognizable bottles.

In the early 1980s, sriracha hot sauce emerged as the trendy new, mass-produced hot sauce to hit the American market. Fast forward to the past ten years or so and we’ve seen a major boost in hot sauce, as pepper breeders compete time and time again for the honor of growing the newest and greatest record-breaking hot pepper. In turn, that’s inspired the craft hot sauce market to explode, with more choices than ever when it comes to hot sauce and hot pepper products.

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