“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance”*…
The McIlhenny Family
The Business: Tabasco hot sauce
The Fortune: The company’s net worth is estimated at $2 billion to $3 billion. (At $2.5 billion, that’s 626,566,416 five-ounce bottles of original Tabasco).
A Brief History: In 1868, Edmund McIlhenny of Avery Island, Louisana, crafted a sauce made from salt-fermented tabasco peppers to pep up “bland” Southern food. Two years later, he received a patent and began expanding the business, focusing on restaurants and “men’s clubs.” The fact that there were few competitors at the time helped Tabasco gain ground quickly. The company has stayed within the family for five generations.
Amateur Hour: Consumers originally complained that McIlhenny’s sauce was too hot, because they applied it “liberally,” like ketchup—that’s why the bottle is fitted with a slotted slow-release top.
From well-known eponymous brands like Mars and Entemann’s to more discrete families like the Albrechts (Trader Joe’s) and the Unanues (Goya), Bon Appétit runs down the family dynasties that rule the grocery aisles, restaurant kitchens, and dinner tables of America: “The Richest, Most Powerful Families in the Food Business.”
* George Bernard Shaw
As we strategize our approaches to the buffet table, we might send epigrammatic birthday greetings to Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra; he was born on this date in 1925. Berra played almost his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the New York Yankees. Berra is one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times; according to sabermetrician Bill James, he is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd greatest non-pitching player in major-league history. Berra went on to manage the dynasty of which he was a crucial part, the Yankees, and then the New York Mets; he is one of seven managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series (as a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 Fall Classics). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Berra is also remembered for the “unique” observations on baseball and life with which he graced reporters during interviews: e.g., “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” “It’s déjà vu all over again,” “You can observe a lot by watching,” and “The future ain’t what it used to be.” In The Yogi Book, Berra explained, “I really didn’t say everything I said. […] Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know.”