History’s got a cayenne pepper secret. Cayenne peppers are not actually peppers!
What started this spicy mix-up? It all began with everyone’s favorite explorer: Christopher Columbus.
When Columbus set sail in 1492, he was on the hunt for spices. Refrigeration was several hundred years in the future, so people had to use different means of keeping their food palatable as it spoiled. Peppers, imported thousands of miles from India to Europe, were some of the most popular spices to use. Unfortunately, the long journey raised prices until only royalty could afford to use them, so Columbus set out to find more.
The exact place of origin for cayenne peppers is unknown, but Bolivia has been accepted as the best guess. This bit of information didn’t make it back to Europe, however…
As we all know, the explorer never reached India, but that didn’t stop him from trying to give Indian titles to the foods and people he found. He attempted to pass the cayenne and other local spices he collected, called “aji,” as peppers, but scientists and doctors deemed the food unfit for consumption.
Despite Columbus’ failure, our favorite peppers continued to spread throughout the word, reaching every continent except Antarctica and eventually gaining acceptance throughout.
As people began to use the peppers to spice their food, they began noticing a trend. In Mexico, they found that mixing cayenne in their raw milk kept their children from getting a type of dysentery that often resulted from drinking the beverage. In the West Indies, cayenne was found to remedy several ailments, including deadly Yellow Fever.
In America, cayenne peppers were first used by a Louisiana banker in the mid-1800s. He received the seeds from an American soldier returning from the Mexican War and decided to make a spicy sauce. Tabasco Sauce is still used worldwide today.
As the use of cayenne peppers has grown, more remedies have been discovered. Though it is used most popularly as a culinary additive, many people have discovered its healing power. Our own history with cayenne pepper began when we created the most powerful sore throat remedy on the market.
Now you know where cayenne pepper has come from, but where does it go? Help us spread the word by sharing our products with your friends and family and following us on social media! Yippee!