History of Hot Sauce 101

bottle of Woos! Ultimate Hot Sauce laying on a white background surrounded by red peppers


Hot sauces have been around for centuries, but the modern variety we know today didn’t really take off until the 20th century. 

And recently, there has also been an explosion of interest in hot sauces from around the world- condiments like sriracha and hoisin sauce.

So where did it all begin?

Who invented the hot sauce?

Hot sauce origin has been a topic of debate for years. Some people say that it originated in the Caribbean, while others claim Mexico is where it all started!

In reality though, there are many countries around the world with their own unique recipes and ingredients used to create the most popular varieties of hot sauce you can find today.

The first known use of a spicy condiment was in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used it to season their food and drink, including beer, wine, milk, cheese, breads, meats, fish and vegetables. It is believed that they also made sauces out of garlic, vinegar or honey before adding chili peppers as an afterthought over 2,000 years ago.

Pretty creative, right? Seems like humans have loved burning their tongues with hot flavors for thousands of years!

In Mesopotamia, cumin seeds were added to foods during cooking, but not for flavor. They are thought to have been used medicinally by the Sumerians as a treatment for heartburn.

In China, soybeans were fermented into what we now know as miso soup; however, this dish wasn’t meant to be eaten with meals, rather consumed on its own as part of a mealtime ritual.

Fun Fact: One of the first known Western hot sauce recipes was created by a Spanish monk in 1565 and it consisted of crushed red peppers mixed with vinegar.  

How many different hot sauces are there?

The number is huge! In North America alone, there were 3 million tons of sauce consumed in 2002; in the U.S., an estimated 700 million quills, and 2 billion lids used annually.

Hot sauce makers will tell you that their sauces come from almost anywhere or any ingredient imaginable: everything from chile pepper peppers from Argentina, India, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Italy, Spain...and the list goes on because nearly every country and culture produces various spiciness levels with some common variations.  

But they all start with a spicy base.

Here's a simple breakdown to get started looking for specific hot sauces depending of your preference:

* Mild less than 10,000 Scoville Units -- this includes basic ketchup-based, vinegar based dips like buffalo chicken wing sauce, etc.

* Medium/Strong 10,000 to 100,000 SHUs -- for tabasco, cayenne, and Thai pepper lovers

* Very Strong / Extreme - 100,000+ SHUs -- if you love "liquid smoke" then you’ll love ghost peppers and Carolina reaper in your hot sauces 

Has Hot Sauce Killed Anyone?

The answer is yes. But not in the way that most people think it can. The truth about how to die from eating spicy food has been known for centuries, but only recently have we begun to understand why this happens and what exactly causes death by chili pepper ingestion.

In fact, there are two ways of dying from ingesting a large amount of capsaicin: one involves anaphylactic shock while the other results in circulatory collapse due to vasodilation.

In both cases, the body’s response to the heat triggers massive internal damage, which leads to organ failure and eventually death.

What is the oldest brand of hot sauce?

According to Wikipedia, the oldest brand of American hot sauce is Tabasco which was founded in 1868.

The first commercial production facility opened in 1888 and it became a national company in 1899. It's still owned by the McIlhenny Company today.

According to the Tabasco website, the original recipe dates back to 1770! That means this spicy concoction could very well be the world’s oldest hot sauce.

Make Some Saucy Memories!

The history of hot sauces is a long and varied one. Hot sauces have been around for centuries in all parts of the world, but the modern era for Western sauces began with the invention of Tabasco Sauce by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868.

Pretty cool, right? There's a lot of history behind the flavors you love. 

So for folks with darn good taste, Woos! is the sauce for you!

And if you're feeling experimental or creative? We're here to give you the most versatile and tasty pantry essentials.

Let us bring the flavor, the tang, and just enough heat to add some flair without overwhelming your taste buds.