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Download McIlhenny’s Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample McIlhenny’s Gold: How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire Audiobook, by Jeffrey Rothfeder Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (74 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeffrey Rothfeder Narrator: Norman Dietz Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2007 ISBN: 9781400175697
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After the Civil War ended, Edmund McIlhenny, an ambitious and tenacious Louisiana businessman, found himself with few prospects. The South's economy in ruins and his millions of dollars in Confederacy currency worthless, he had no choice but to return with his wife, Mary, to her family home in Avery Island, a former sugar plantation destroyed by Union soldiers. To McIlhenny's surprise, however, the hot peppers he had planted before being forced off the island had flourished. Desperate for money, he chopped up the peppers, combined them with salt and vinegar, and produced the first batch of hot pepper sauce. He called it Tabasco. Former BusinessWeek editor Jeffrey Rothfeder tells how, from a simple idea—the outgrowth of three peppers planted on an isolated island on the Gulf of Mexico—a secretive family business emerged that would produce one of the best-known brands in the world. In short order, McIlhenny's descendants would turn Tabasco into a gold mine, making it as ubiquitous as Coke, Kodak, and Kleenex: an icon of pop culture. The McIlhenny Company, still run by a family of matchless characters who believe in a rigid code of family loyalty, clings to tradition and the old ways of doing business. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Celebrated narrator Norman Dietz...offers a straightforward, unobtrusive reading that makes the McIlhenny company the star of the story.... His reading is thoroughly intriguing and inspiring. AudioFile
  • “The history of Tabasco and its creators, the McIlhenny family, makes for a spicy…tale, and Jeffrey Rothfeder serves it up nicely.”


  • “These days, Tabasco is nearly as ubiquitous as butter and as quotidian as salt and pepper—and this book chronicles that progression in equal parts business story and Faulknerian family saga.”


  • “From its legendary invention in the months after the Civil War, to the carefully guarded recipe and production and the tightly controlled employees’ town in the Louisiana swamps, Rothfeder looks at the extraordinary journey of a family from rags to riches.”


  • “The unembellished saga of the McIlhenny clan is a tale that needs no seasoning.”


  • “Balanced and always entertaining.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rothfeder manages to tell a compelling story of single-minded product marketing, Southern social history and slavery, and the challenges endemic to all family firms.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Toni | 7/5/2013

    " Very interesting history of the family that started Tabasco sauce. Well researched. A bit slow at times but overall very entertaining, filled with fun-facts about peppers, New Orleans, cooking, farming, the Civil War, etc. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 2/11/2013

    " Fascinating book, it makes me want to give up tabasco sauce because the family is so crazy but I haven't been able do it yet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber | 10/7/2012

    " Very interesting insider take on my husband's favorite Tabasco Sauce. I really want to go back to Louisiana and visit Avery Island now! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 3/9/2012

    " This is a history / business / political / expose book about the McIlhenny family and their family business, Tabasco Pepper Sauce. It's good stuff, especially for people from Louisiana. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brei | 11/23/2011

    " Learned so much from this book. Had no idea all of this was just about in my backyard. Yes I have been to the plant but didn't realize how it was made and what Nazi's they are about the name Tabasco. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill Gordon | 8/24/2011

    " Tons of local history and colorful anecdotes about the man who started the Tabasco pepper sauce industry. For some reason I really enjoyed this one. Good for a non-fiction break. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Skyler | 7/18/2010

    " Some interesting history in this book, but a lot of repetition, as if written by your grandfather who has forgotten that he already told you a story. Most interesting tidbit -- the salt mines under Avery Island and their unique history. I would love to take a tour! "

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About the Author

Jeffrey Rothfeder is a veteran, award-winning journalist, and former editor-in-chief at International Business Times. He has written numerous critically acclaimed books, including McIlhenny’s Gold, Every Drop for Sale, and Privacy for Sale. He was previously national news editor at Bloomberg News; editor-in-chief at PC Magazine; executive editor at Time, Inc.; and an editor at Businessweek. He lives in Cortlandt Manor, New York.

About the Narrator

Norman Dietz is a writer, voice-over artist, and audiobook narrator. He has won numerous Earphones Awards and was named one of the fifty “Best Voices of the Century” by AudioFile magazine. He and his late wife, Sandra, transformed an abandoned ice-cream parlor into a playhouse, which served “the world’s best hot fudge sundaes” before and after performances. The founder of Theatre in the Works, he lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.