The Dangers of Hot Sauce

In our family, Tabasco sauce has its own punch line.

Many years ago, when our son Stephen was in kindergarten, Anna was two, and Matthew was expanding my waistline, I served gumbo for dinner. Nothing’s ever hot enough for my husband, Dave, so he poured on the Tabasco.

“What’s that, Dad?” Stephen asked.
“Tabasco sauce.” Dave waved the bottle, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Want some?”
Stephen’s face grew white, and he shook his head. “You shouldn’t use that. It’s dangerous.”

Kids that age say odd things, especially Stephen, so we laughed it off and finished dinner.

The next day, Stephen came home from kindergarten, sporting his “red ribbon” for the anti-drug program he’d just completed. He plopped on the floor to play with his little sister. Some time later, I heard Stephen’s big brother voice, the one he used to impart words of wisdom to his sister. I tuned in to hear the wealth of five years’ experience in the world.

Stephen shook his finger at his sister. “Anna, you must never use Tabasco sauce, ’cause Tabasco’s a drug.”

Tabasco. Tobacco. It all made sense. Some well-meaning speaker had told the children of the evils of tobacco, but for Stephen that was a foreign word.

No one in the family uses tobacco. Tabasco, on the other hand…

Whenever that bottle comes out of the pantry, someone says it: “Don’t use that! Tabasco’s a drug.”