Paul C. P. McIlhenny, the chairman and chief executive of the Louisiana-based McIlhenny Company, best known as the producers of Tabasco hot sauce, died of a heart attack in New Orleans on Saturday. He was 68.
McIlhenny spent 45 years with the company, which was founded by his great-grandfather, Tabasco inventor Edmund McIlhenny, after the Civil War. According to The New York Times, he joined the company in 1967, and over the years loaded peppers, processed the pepper mash, and loaded cases onto rail cars, and later he worked in the marketing, advertising, purchasing, food service, and several other of the company’s departments before becoming chief executive in 2000.
The company grew by leaps and bounds during his tenure, largely due to the introduction of new products like Buffalo-style and chipotle sauces, as well as partnerships with brands including Cheez-Its and A-1 and a branded product line of items like boxers and teddy bears.
Based out of Avery Island, near New Orleans, the company is arguably the best-known product to come out of the state of Louisiana. McIlhenny would personally lead tours of the factory, and was also known for his environmental preservation efforts.