Salsa as a dip for french fries. Photo courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission.





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KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



May 2007
Updated April 2017

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Salsas, Dips & Spreads

The History Of Salsa

Page 2: Salsa Chronology


This is Page 2 of a three-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Salsa & Hot Sauce History

To go back to the beginning:

  • Chiles are first domesticated in Latin America in the period 5200 B.C.E. to 3400 B.C.E. [3]
  • In 1494, Dr. Diego Álvarez Chanca brings the first chiles to Spain, after traveling to the West Indies on Columbus’ second voyage. He writes of their medicinal effect. [3] Little is known about Dr. Álvarez Chanca, other than the fact that he was a physician-in-ordinary to Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain, and was appointed by them to accompany Columbus on his second voyage west in 1493.
  • In 1529, Bernardino de Sahagún arrives and begins to document Aztec culture, which includes foods (and salsa).
  • Aztec lords combine tomatoes with chiles and ground squash seeds and consume them mainly as a condiment with seafood, turkey and venison. This combination is subsequently called salsa in 1571 by Alonso de Molina, a Spanish priest and missionary (c. 1510-1584) who is taken by his parents to Santo Domingo, and goes on to Mexico in 1523, after the conquest, where he learns the Aztec language, Nahuatl. Afterward he serves as interpreter to the first Franciscan friars. [7]
  • In 1807, the first bottled hot sauces, made with cayenne chiles, appear in Massachusetts. [3]
  • In 1868 on Avery Island, about 140 miles west of New Orleans, Edmund McIlhenny packages an aged Tabasco pepper sauce in 350 used cologne bottles and sends it to prospective buyers. The sauce is immediately popular and demand is overwhelming. [3]
  • In 1898, Trappey and Sons markets its own brand of hot pepper sauce, also using the name Tabasco. In the same year, Marie Sharp begins bottling hot sauce in Belize. [3]
  • Also in 1898, according to, a cookbook published in the U.S. (although apparently in Spanish) contains two recipes for salsa fresca. Encaracion Pinedo’s El Cocerina Español (The Spanish Cook) includes recipes for Salsa Picante de Chile Colorado, a spicy red chile sauce, and well as Salsa de Chile Verde, a green chile sauce.
  Peach Salsa
Peach salsa, the top seller in the U.S., was unknown to the Aztecs: the peach tree originated in China and moved west via Asia Minor. It came to the Americas with the colonists. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.
  • In 1916, Charles E. Erath of New Orleans is the first person to manufacture a salsa product, “Extract of Louisiana Pepper” Red Hot Creole Sauce—but it is a pepper sauce or hot sauce product, not a dippable salsa. A year later, La Victoria Foods starts Salsa Brava in Los Angeles. [4][7]
  • In Louisiana in 1923, Baumer Foods begins manufacturing Crystal Hot Sauce and in 1928, Bruce Foods starts making Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, two sauce brands that are still in existence. [4]
  • In 1941, Henry Tanklage forms La Victoria Sales Company to market a new La Victoria salsa line. He introduces red and green taco and enchilada sauces, the first salsa hot sauces in the U.S. He takes 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 jalapeño. [4]
  • Salsa manufacturing in Texas begins in 1947 with David and Margaret Pace, founders of Pace Foods, and their Picante Sauce. Pace is born into a syrup-manufacturing family in Louisiana. World War II pilot training school takes him to San Antonio Texas, where he returns after his discharge in 1945 and begins his own syrup and condiment business. In 1947, he decides that the real “syrup of the Southwest” is Mexican sauce, now known as salsa. He tests different recipes on his golf buddies, naming the winning combination of tomatoes, jalapeños and onions “picante” sauce, Spanish for “piquant,” meaning flavorful or spicy. He refines the recipe, a medium-level of spiciness, over much of the next decade. [5]
  • In 1952, La Victoria Foods introduces the first commercial taco sauce in the U.S. and in 1955, La Preferida launches a line of salsas. [4]

And 20 years later, the big spurt in salsa sales began, as Americans from coast to coast discovered Mexican food.

Continue To Page 3: Salsa Chronology, Continued

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[5] Pace Foods press materials

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