Edmund McIlhenny was a self-made man, the kind of guy who picked himself up by the bootstraps, worked 12 hours a day and became a prominent New Orleans banker, just in time for the American Civil War to erupt and destroy everything he worked so hard to achieve.
Once Union soldiers invaded his town, McIlhenny fled with his family to his wife's home at a place called Avery Island, which wasn't actually an island. McIlhenny started a new life helping to run the family salt mines, which was actually pretty good business. The Avery Island salt mine provided the Confederacy with 22 million pounds of salt during the war, and before he knew it, McIlhenny was back on his feet!
That is, until Union forces mounted an attack on his salt mine and he had to flee once more. This time they went to Texas, where the McIlhennys wisely stayed put until the end of the war.
They returned and found that everything had been destroyed and the only crops that seemed to thrive in the ashy, salty soil were some pepper plants from the Mexican state of Tabasco.
Thanks to the war, in 1868 those peppers were pretty much the only thing McIlhenny had going for him. So, he mixed them up with some Avery Island salt, vinegar, other peppers and Tabasco sauce was born. He bottled his concoction in some old perfume bottles and started shipping to them grocers around the country. Two years later he got a patent, and the McIlhenny family has been running the Tabasco brand ever since.