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MIKE KEELER: It May Not Solve All The World’s Problems, But . . .

If the day’s news has got you down, what you need is a jolt of hot sauce.

But first, some history. In the 1860’s, Edmund McIlhenny was a wealthy banker living in a mansion in New Orleans. But then came the civil war, and the Union Army marched into town. New Orleans was captured and looted, and McIlhenny’s home was taken. He fled to nearby Avery Island, where his wife’s family mined rock salt. But the federals soon took that too. McIlhenny was ruined, and left with nothing to his name but a crop of . . . hot peppers.

With no other prospects, he crushed some of the peppers and mixed them with a little vinegar and salt. He sent the product to some local wholesalers. One bottle fell into the hands of a certain General Hazard, the federal administrator in New Orleans, who loved the stuff. And, as luck would have it, Hazard’s brother turned out to be the largest grocery wholesaler in the country!

On the strength of the purchase orders that poured in, McIlhenny launched “Tabasco,” which quickly became the country’s most popular brand of hot sauce.

And now it’s turning out that Tabasco might just save us all. Hot sauces get their heat from the chemical capsaicin, which is an irritant to mammals and causes a burning sensation. And capsaicin is proving itself to be a bit of a wonder drug. When you eat Tabasco, your body recognizes the capsaicin as a mild poison and gets busy removing it from your system. Recent medical studies suggest that this removal process stimulates your metabolism and reduces lipid absorption. So hot sauce has the potential to give you energy and help keep you fit.

But wait, there’s more! Capsaicin may also help control diabetes. And a recent study by Cornell University – so it must be true – shows that adding hot sauce to meals may actually reduce ulcers and digestive distress.

Tabasco also adds flavor but is low in fat and calories.

You can get these benefits from any sauce derived from hot peppers – Sriracha, Frank’s, Texas Pete’s, Cholula, Scorned Woman, you name it – as they all contain the spicy magic of capsaicin. But while you are enjoying all that heat and flavor laced with multiple health benefits, give some credit to the original.

Now, we’re not saying that Tabasco will solve all the world’s problems. But if watching the news lately is giving you a case of indigestion, you might just want to add a few drops to your eggs this weekend.

(We received no compensation from The McIlhenny Company for this installment. But if any of you know somebody in their marketing department . . .)

– Mike Keeler


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