By Dave DeWitt
A 135-year-old Tabasco® bottle has been recovered and reconstructed from 21 glass fragments found in an archaeological site of the historic Boston Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. The recovery of the artifact was announced by Nevada state historic preservation officer Ron James and McIlhenny Company historian Shane Bernard. Ashley Dumas, a graduate student at the University of Alabama who directed the excavations at the original Tabasco® factory said that the bottle found in the Comstock mining district of Virginia City is a Type 1a bottle, one of the earliest forms known. Edmund McIlhenny began bottling Tabasco® in 1868, and the Boston Saloon operated between 1864 and 1875 and the probable date of the bottle is 1870. Since the proprietor of the Boston Saloon was William A.G. Brown, a prominent free African-American from Massachusetts, the find has interesting meaning for Western food history. “The Tabasco® bottle is particularly intriguing because of what it implies about African-American cuisine and the development of the West,” said supervising archaeologist Kelly Dixon. “This was an exotic product and Comstock African-Americans were apparently breaking new ground. We are not certain why there are these preferences [for hot sauce], but we hope to have more answers in the future.”
If you look carefully, you can see the Tabasco® name embossed on the bottom of the bottle. For more Tabasco® history, go here.