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The Heat of Happiness

A trip to Avery Island unleashes a series of events leading to a hilarious family memory. Who knew peppers had so much to offer?

Avery Island, Louisiana, and I am watching as my son frantically runs (runs!) from one building to another in a mad dash seeking relief. Am I concerned? Slightly. Overly? No. Do I realize in the moment that this will become a hilarious family memory? Absolutely.

So—Avery Island. Does it ring a bell? It should, as you have likely seen it on a label more than once in your life. Avery Island, Louisiana is where Tabasco sauce is made. It is a lovely place to visit to learn about the history, the process, and it of course has the obligatory gift shop. In the gift shop, they have a variety of things to taste test. Things you will not find in your local grocery store condiment aisle. But there are also things ‘under the counter’ to taste.

Let me interject here to say that my son has a love affair with the spicy things in life. This is the same boy who begged me to buy a habanero pepper and then film him eating it. Of course, I obliged. (Sidebar--that is another fond family memory). At any rate, you get the idea. If it’s spicy, he is 100% down to try it.

When the time came to taste-test a variety of things, he was first in line. Going down the line trying all the various sauces. The woman behind the counter struck up a conversation with him asking about his love of all things spicy. She then asks if he’d like to try something not on the counter (think secret menu). He readily agrees, his curiosity piqued, and she pulls something from under the counter for him to try.

Ok, sorry to interject again, but let me just explain that among the things laid out on the counter are things like habanero ice cream. So anything under the counter is something to be…awed…feared even.

She pulls out a bowl containing a sauce. Not just any sauce, but a sauce made with scorpion peppers. He dips the end of a pretzel stick into the sauce with just the smallest amount on the end.

It only took half a second. Maybe not even that.

And he was off.

He was running to find relief. Water, milk, anything. Nothing was in the building we were in (aside from the habanero ice cream—which was definitely not helpful in this situation). He ran outside to the neighboring building. Then came running back out. Then ran around to the side of the building. Eventually he found relief. No worries, he fully recovered. And yes, we laughed all the way home. In fact, we still laugh about it.

We found out later that the scorpion pepper at one point was the hottest pepper on earth. It has since been replaced by the Carolina Reaper. For context, the scorpion sauce is about 8-10 times hotter than the original sauce.

Why am I sharing this story?


There are so many types. There is pride, peace, joy, humor, and even…understanding. And it can strike at any time.

But here’s the thing, you have to be ready to receive happiness. You can seek it, sure. But you also have to allow it to find you.

It’s too easy to not go on the trip, or to be distracted by your phone, or to let other emotions like impatience take precedence. When you allow yourself to be in the moment, happiness will find you and often in unexpected, lasting ways.

Like a boy who loves hot sauce.

Or a scorpion pepper.

And a family memory that will stand the test of time.

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