Picture Mt. Everest. Now, picture Mt. Everest made entirely of salt. Then picture that mountain underground, with its tip barely peeking up above sea level. And now you have Avery Island, Louisiana. Way back in the geologic past, sea beds evaporated and left behind salt in the form of a salt dome. American Indians discovered briny salt water on the island and boiled it to obtain salt, which they traded with other Indian tribes. The island later became home to the Avery family, hence the name.
During the American Civil War, a mine on the island produced millions of pounds of salt for the Confederacy. The mine was destroyed when Union troops invaded, but resuscitated by the family (now joined by Edmund McIlhenny). McIlhenny began experimenting with a hot sauce recipe, using hot peppers and salt from the island. His tinkering was successful, and now Tabasco sauce is popular worldwide. (Guam is the largest per-capita consumer of Tabasco sauce – apparently they even add it to beer!)
We visited Avery Island a few days ago. We toured the factory and got to taste lots of different Tabasco products (which I think was ultimately profitable for them, because the products were delicious and I bought some). Tabasco-flavored ice cream is pretty indescribable. Anyway, Avery Island also has a large bird sanctuary, called the Jungle Gardens, where we saw egrets and alligators and a somewhat random 900-year-old Buddha statue.