Skip to content

The Evolution of Hot Sauce

We’ve had hot sauce as part of our diet for as long as we can remember but, have you ever thought about how it became a real thing? While the origin isn’t quite as strange as the first glass of milk (weird), it’s still a pretty interesting adventure. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and explore the origins of our favorite condiment.

History of Hot Sauce

Primitive Pepper Pastes Gain Popularity

7000 BC: The first known hot sauce was invented by the Aztecs. Their simple recipe was a mixture of water and ground-up chili peppers—no fancy flavors or exotic peppers here. They used their hot sauce for just about everything, from spicing up their squash to curing colds, relieving muscle pain, and attacking their enemies (hello, pepper spray!). While the Aztec civilization eventually disappeared, their hot sauce recipe was here to stay. 


Chili Peppers Go Global

1500 AD: Fast forward a couple thousand years to when the conquistadors went global, taking their love of hot sauce with them. People in the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa started concocting their own hot sauce recipes, taking them to the next level with imported peppers, vinegar, and spices. 


Hot Sauce Makes Headlines

1807 AD: As the Industrial Revolution raged on, the first commercial hot sauce advertisement was printed in a Massachusetts newspaper. This “cayenne sauce” was basically The End: Flatline’s great-great-great-grandfather—thanks for paving the way for us, pops! 


Tabasco Pepper Seeds Come to America

1848 AD: After months of devouring super-hot and tasty enchiladas and spicy salsa, American soldiers returned from the Mexican-American War with a new-found love for hot peppers. They took some souvenir seeds back home and started cultivating new pepper varieties to spice up ma’s meatloaf.


The Hot Sauce Craze Kicks Off

1850 AD: Edmund MchIlhenny gets the first-ever patent for hot pepper sauce (which was later trademarked in 1906, and is still quite popular today). With commercialization came competition and people all over the world started incorporating unique hot sauces into all of their favorite recipes.  


Scoville Scale Comes to Life

1912 AD: Wilbur Scoville invents a scale that measures the spiciness of all things hot, from peppers to sauces. Each hot item gets a rating, meanwhile hot sauce makers take on the challenge of cooking up the hottest hot sauce in the world (currently ranking at 9 million Scoville Units—yikes!). 


Specialty Hot Sauce Goes Mainstream

1985 AD: As people turned to small businesses for carefully crafted products, from microbreweries to farm-to-table foods, hot sauciers took off. More and more small-batch hot sauce creators popped up, including the ubiquitous Pepper Palace in 1989. 


Current Day

Whether you step into a hot sauce shop or your favorite taqueria, you’re likely to find yourself bombarded with a vast hot sauce selection. From mild and fruity hot sauces to so-extremely-hot-you-might-actually-die hot sauces, there’s a flavor and heat level for every palate, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 


Grab your favorite hot sauce or try something new—either way, it’s time to embrace your inner chilihead, celebrate the evolution of hot sauce, and spice things up.

Previous article 17 Best Ways to Use Hot Sauce
Next article 15 Unexpected Uses for Salsa