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Paul C.P. McIlhenny, Tabasco sauce firm CEO

AVERY ISLAND, La. — Paul C.P. McIlhenny, chief executive and chairman of the company that makes the trademarked line of Tabasco hot pepper sauces sold the world over, has died. He was 68.

The McIlhenny Co., based on Louisiana’s Avery Island, said Mr. McIlhenny died Saturday. The statement credited his leadership with introducing several new varieties of hot sauces sold under the Tabasco brand and with greatly expanding their global reach.

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Mr. McIlhenny was a member of a storied clan whose 145-year-old company has been producing the original world-famous Tabasco sauce for several generations, since shortly after the Civil War. The statement said Mr. McIlhenny joined the company in 1967 and oversaw the production and quality of all products sold under the brand for 13 years.

Under his management, the company experienced years of record growth in sales and earnings.

Mr. McIlhenny also worked to develop an array of items that could be marketed and emblazoned with the Tabasco logo: T-shirts, aprons, neckties, stuffed toy bears, and computer screensavers, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted. The newspaper noted that Mr. McIlhenny was an executive with a keen sense of humor, quipping days before he reigned as Rex, the King of Carnival, for Mardi Gras in 2006: ‘‘We’re defending the world against bland food.’’

The Times-Picayune said he had taken up the post of company president starting in 1998 before adding the title of chief executive two years later. It added that his cousin, Tony Simmons, took over as president last year.

‘‘All of McIlhenny Co. and the McIlhenny and Avery families are deeply saddened by this news,’’ said Simmons . “We will clearly miss Paul’s devoted leadership but will more sorely feel the loss of his acumen, his charm, and his irrepressible sense of humor.’’

The statement said Mr. McIlhenny led the way on new brand merchandising, taking an instrumental role in the company’s catalog business of licensed merchandise. He also was a driving force behind the growing global reach of Tabasco products, today sold in more than 165 countries.

He was a sixth-generation member of the family to live on Avery Island and among the fourth generation to produce the Tabasco brand sauce on Avery Island, where patriarch Edmund McIlhenny had founded the company in 1868.

He grew up in New Orleans.

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