By Sunny Days from the April 2015 Edition
The history of Salsa sauce originated with the Inca people. Salsa (a combination of chilies, tomatoes and other spices) can be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. The Spaniards first encountered tomatoes after their conquest of Mexico in 1519-1521, which marked the beginning of the history of Salsa sauce. Aztec lords combined tomatoes with chili peppers, ground squash seeds and consumed them mainly as a condiment served on turkey, venison, lobster, and fish. This combination was subsequently called ‘Salsa‘by Alonso de Molina in 1571.
Charles E. Erath of New Orleans was the first person in salsa sauce history who began manufacturing Extract of Louisiana Pepper and Red Hot Creole Pepper sauce in 1916. A year later, La Victoria Foods started Salsa Brava in Los Angeles.
In Louisiana in 1923, Baumer Foods began manufacturing Crystal Hot Sauce and in 1928 Bruce Foods started making Original Louisiana Hot Sauce – two salsa sauce brands that are still in existence.
In 1941, Henry Tanklage formed La Victoria Sales Company to market a new La Victoria salsa line. He introduced red and green taco and enchilada sauces – the first of salsa hot sauces in US. He took over the entire La Victoria operation in 1946, which manufactures ten different hot sauces now covering the entire salsa spectrum, including Green Chili Salsa and Red Salsa Jalapa.
According to the hot sauce history, salsa manufacturing in Texas began in 1947 with David and Margaret Pace and their picante sauce. In 1952, La Victoria Foods introduced the first commercial taco sauce in US and in 1955, La Preferida launched a line of salsas.
Then in 1975, Patti Swidler of Arizona launched Desert Rose Salsa. Four years later, in Austin (Texas), Dan Jardine began producing Jardine’s Commercial Salsa, giving Austin the reputation in the history of Salsa Sauce as the hot sauce capital of America. Another Texas company, the El Paso Chili Company, was started in 1980 by Norma and W. Park Kerr. In 1986, Miguel’s Stowe Away in Vermont launched a salsa line and in April, 1986, Sauces & Salsas Ltd. began manufacturing the Montezuma brand of hot pepper sauces and salsas in Ohio.
Between 1985 and 1990, Mexican sauce sales grew seventy-nine percent. Between 1988 and 1992, the percentage of American households buying salsa increased from 16 to 36. By 1992, the top eight salsa manufacturers in the history of salsa sauce were Pace, Old El Paso, Frito-Lay, Chi-Chi’s, La Victoria, Ortega, Herdez, and Newman’s Own. By 1993, competition from smaller salsa companies was so fierce that Pace, Old El Paso, and six other brands saw Texas sales decline three percent.
The big news in 1994 was the buyout of two of the largest companies in the fiery foods Industry. Numero uno salsa manufacturer Pace Foods, was sold to Campbell Soup Company for an astronomical 1.1 billion USD.