Seniors Get HOT on Avery Island

captionMany of us have heard of Avery Island (historically French: Île Petite Anse), the birthplace of TABASCO® brand pepper sauce.  Senior travelers will find Avery Island in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, about three miles inland from Vermilion Bay, which in turn opens onto the Gulf of Mexico.

A small population calls the island home. Avery Island has been owned for over 180 years by the interrelated Marsh, Avery and McIlhenny families.

After the Civil War, former New Orleans banker E. McIlhenny met a traveler recently arrived from Mexico who gave McIlhenny a handful of pepper pods, advising him to season his meals with them.

McIlhenny saved some of the pods and planted them in his in-laws’ garden on Avery Island; he delighted in the peppers’ piquant flavor, which added excitement to the monotonous food of the Reconstruction-era South and history was made.

LA-W-1 - First Rock Salt Mine, Avery Island, Iberia  Parish

The island was named after the Avery family, who settled there in the 1830s, but long before that, Native Americans had found that Avery Island’s verdant flora covered a precious natural resource—a massive salt dome.

The Indians boiled the Island’s briny spring water to extract salt, which they traded to other tribes as far away as central Texas, The World’s Famous TABASCO Brand Pepper Sauce began on Avery Island after the Civil War.

 Seniors Experience Jungle Gardens

Lush subtropical flora and venerable live oaks draped with wild muscadine and swags of barbe espagnole, or Spanish moss, cover this geological oddity.


Avery Island’s 170-acre Jungle Gardens is a botanical treasure. Senior visitors may see deer, snowy egrets and other wildlife and discover a variety of azaleas, camellias and bamboo.

Naturalists, bird watchers and senior visitors from around the world will enjoy the gently rolling landscape, botanical treasures and abundant wildlife.

Avery Island occupies roughly 2,200 acres and sits atop a deposit of solid rock salt thought to be deeper than Mount Everest is high. Today,  Avery Island remains the home of the Tabasco brand pepper sauce factory, as well as Jungle Gardens and its Bird City Wildfowl Refuge.

 Seniors Find Salt and Tobasco


Although covered with a layer of fertile soil, salt springs may have attracted prehistoric settlers to the island as early as 12,000 years ago. Fossils suggest that early inhabitants shared the land with mastodons and mammoths, giant sloths, saber-toothed tigers and three-toed horses.

A salt production industry dates back to about 1000 AD, judging from recovered basket fragments, polished stone implements, and shards of pottery left by American Indians.

Although these early dwellers remained on the Island at least as late as the 1600s, they had mysteriously disappeared by the time white settlers first discovered the briny springs at the end of the next century.

Senior visitors can tour the factory and enjoy a film on the history of Tabasco Pepper Sauce. Save your appetite and be ready to shop and taste your way through the last two stops on the tour, the Tabasco Country Store and Restaurant 1868. -jeb

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