Harper Business Books: Setting the Agenda on Work, Leadership, and Growth

Publication Details and Purchasing Information

Selected Format: E-book

Format Details

Book Title and Author Byline

McIlhenny's Gold

How a Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire

Buy the Book

Product Description and Author Information

About the Book

In this fascinating history, Jeffrey Rothfeder tells how, from a simple idea—the outgrowth of a handful of peppers planted on an isolated island on the Gulf of Mexico—a secretive family business emerged that would produce one of the best-known products in the world.

A delectable and satisfying read for both Tabasco fans and business buffs, McIlhenny's Gold is the untold story of the continuing success of an eccentric, private company; a lively history of one of the most popular consumer products of all times; and an exploration of our desire to test the limits of human tolerance for fiery foods.

About the Author

Jeffrey Rothfeder

Photo of Jeffrey Rothfeder

A former BusinessWeek editor and national editor at Bloomberg News, Jeffrey Rothfeder has written for publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and has appeared on 20/20, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and Oprah. He lives in Cortlandt Manor, New York.


“[B]alanced 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

“[T]he history of Tabasco and its creators, the McIlhenny family, makes for a spicy…tale, and Jeffrey Rothfeder serves it up nicely.” —BusinessWeek

“[T]he unembellished saga of the McIlhenny clan is a tale that needs no seasoning.” —Portfolio

“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.” —History

“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.” —Forbes