NPR : News

Filed Under:

Paul C.P. McIlhenny, CEO Of Company That Makes Tabasco Sauce, Dies

The CEO and chairman of the company that makes Tabasco sauce has died in New Orleans. Paul C.P. McIlhenny was 68.

McIlhenny died Saturday, according to a Sunday statement from the Avery Island, La.-based McIlhenny Co.

"All of McIlhenny Company and the McIlhenny and Avery families are deeply saddened by this news," Tony Simmons, president of McIlhenny Company and fifth-generation McIlhenny family member, said in the statement. "We will clearly miss Paul's devoted leadership but will more sorely feel the loss of his acumen, his charm and his irrepressible sense of humor."

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is also reporting on McIlhenny's legacy. Here's an excerpt from its story:

"Mr. McIlhenny entered the family business in 1967, shortly after earning a degree in political science at the University of the South in Tennessee.

"Despite his passion for all things Louisiana, Mr. McIlhenny was born in Houston in 1944, along with a twin sister, Sara, because their mother was staying there with her mother while the children's father was in the military during World War II, said his daughter Barbara McIlhenny Fitz-Hugh.

"Mr. McIlhenny grew up in New Orleans and spent much of his childhood shuttling between New Orleans and the family's compound on Avery Island."

McIlhenny became the company's president in 1998, becoming the sixth family member to hold that title. He was named CEO in 2000. (Anthony Simmons, a cousin, was named president last year.)

In 2006, McIlhenny reigned as Rex, the king of the New Orleans Carnival, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The Times-Picayune noted McIlhenny's interest in the wetlands around Avery Island – and his concern for Louisiana's fragile coastline. Here's more from the paper:

"Although Mr. McIlhenny was serious about coastal restoration and the preservation of Louisiana's wetlands, he generally was a merry man — one friend described him as 'Falstaffian' — who strove to inject humor wherever possible.

"A few days before he reigned as Rex in 2006, Mr. McIlhenny quipped that if, during the ceremonial toast to the mayor at Gallier Hall, the subject of hot sauce came up, 'I'll say that's one form of global warming I'm totally in favor of. We're defending the world against bland food.'"

In an 2002 interview with NPR, McIlhenny talked about the origins of the iconic sauce, made by the company founded by Edmund McIlhenny in the 1880s.

"I think he found cologne bottles that had stoppers with sprinkler fitments in them," he said. "The sprinkler would allow something to be dispensed by the drop or the dash rather than poured on and his sauce was so concentrated that it was practical, so the legend is that he found old cologne bottles and filled them with Tabasco sauce."

McIlhenny is survived by his wife, Judith Goodwin McIlhenny, two daughters, Barbara McIlhenny Fitz-Hugh of New Orleans and Rosemary McIlhenny Dinkins of Nashville, Tenn., and four grandchildren.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In 'Porcelain,' Moby Searches For Validation And Finds Unlikely Success

The electronic musician's new memoir traces his journey from Connecticut suburbs to New York City raves. It's a tale of dance clubs, DJs and Manhattan in the 1990s full of self-deprecating humor.
NPR

To Survive The Bust Cycle, Farmers Go Back To Business-School Basics

Farming is entering its third year on the bust side of the cycle. Major crop prices are low, while expenses like seed, fertilizer and land remain high. That means getting creative to succeed.
WAMU 88.5

Power Plant Fight In Prince George's County

A predominantly African American community in rural Prince George's County recently filed a federal civil rights complaint in response to plans to build a third power plant in one town, and fifth in the region.

NPR

Reports Peg Tech Billionaire As Funder Of Hulk Hogan's Case Against Gawker

The New York Times says entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms he has been bankrolling the ex-wrestler's lawsuit. Gawker is appealing a jury award to Hogan of $140 million over publication of a sex tape.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.