From the “Holy Crap… I meant to post this four months ago!” Department:
Life is full of little mysteries, like where lost socks go, or what happened to those car keys I lost back in 1993. Some times the mysteries remain unsolved. But some times you actually get answers!
Back in the early 90s, the McIlhenny Company, makers of Tabasco sauce, released their first new sauce in what was then the 122 year history of the company. It was a green sauce, made from jalapeno peppers, and it was delicious! I bought a couple bottles, but the sauce then disappeared from store shelves. I kind of forgot about it for a time, then saw it again at my local Publix:
But it seemed different somehow. To me, it lacked some of the “kick” I remembered. And for the life of me, I could swear that the bottle originally said “jalapeno sauce” instead of “green pepper sauce”.
Alas, no one else seemed to remember (or care) if the sauce had changed. Every so often I’d think of it, and do a Google search for “Tabasco Jalapeno sauce”. But Tabasco Jalapeno sauce came out a few years before the Internet, so I never really found anything about it. That is, until this past September. I once again did a Google search, only this time I found a picture of one of the original bottles:
But why the name change? And did the company just change the name? Did they change the recipe, too? I sent the company a comment via their website, and then almost immediately forgot about it. I mean, how often do you leave a company a comment and never hear anything in return?
So I was surprised when Shane K. Bernard, the “Historian & Curator” of the McIlhenny Company (cool job!), emailed me a few days later. According to Bernard, former president and CEO Paul McIlhenny told him that the company did focus group testing on the new sauce and found that the public believed that “Tabasco jalapeno sauce” must be very hot, even hotter than original Tabasco sauce. Which was actually the exact opposite of what the company intended: a sauce milder than original Tabasco. So the company changed the name to make it seem less hot to the public.
But what about the recipe? According to Bernard:
“As for the taste, it should not have changed, since I believe it was still the same sauce, just re-branded.”
So… there ya go. Mystery solved!