The College Condiment
Story and Image by Madison Odenborg
Hot sauce: a staple in every college student’s dirty fridge. You’ll find it above the stove next to the other necessities like salt and pepper, or in the door of the refrigerator stuck in a ring of its own spicy-stickiness. You may even find it on a bedside table, next to a package of dry-crumbled Ramen (because we all agree Ramen is just as good dry), or stale tortilla chips. The fact of the matter is we depend on hot sauce the way sailors and shipmen depended on salt for their meats before cooling systems. Why? Because our limited variety of cheap, flavorless, college cuisine would be nothing without a little—or a lot—of red drizzled on top. Let’s just say, it’s no surprise the freshman dining halls carry six different types of hot sauce.
America’s love affair with hot sauce was established long before it became the college student condiment of choice. Advertisements for cayenne sauces appeared in Massachusetts newspapers as early as 1807. One of the first mass manufactured domestic hot sauces was Edmund McIlhenny’s Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce, which came on the market in 1868.
Today, the industry has never been, well, hotter. According to IBIS World’s list of the top 10 growing industries in America, hot sauce production comes in at number eight. Is hot sauce the future of the American economy? We hope so.