Zatarain’s Sunday, Jan 19 2014 

Emile Zatarain, Sr.

Emile Zatarain, Sr.

There are a number of trademarks that are inextricably linked to New Orleans and one of those is celebrating a its 125th anniversary. In 1889, Emile Zatarain, Sr. founded a business at 925 Valmont Street in New Orleans. His first product was root beer extract, but that soon grew to include seasonings and bleach. The product line continued to expand and included spicy Creole mustard and various pickled vegetables.

In 1922, Zatarain turned the business over to his son Emile Zatarain, Jr., whose wife, Ida May, contributed her own recipes for this such as remoulade sauce and olive relish to the company’s produce line. In time, was purchased by a succession of larger companies. The business moved to nearby Gretna, LA and less profitable products like bleach and pickled vegetables fell by the wayside. In the 1970s it concurrently grew into a regional food supplier and institutional food service.

zatarainsIn 1985, the company featured some 60 products, but began marketing boxes rice dishes for which it became known across the United States. Anyone could add Creole spice to their dinners with a box of Dirty Rice, Gumbo Mix or Jambalaya Mix. It temporary marketed some products as “Cajun,” but eventually settled on the more refined “Creole” image.

In 2003, Zatarain’s truly became national when it was purchased by McCormick & Company, the world’s largest spice and seasoning company based in Maryland. Coincidentally, it too began in 1889 as a purveyor of root beer flavorings. The purchase gave the company both national and international distribution, but at its heart, it remains New Orleans-centric. Many of its products, such as crab boil and Creole mustard are aimed at Louisiana chefs and a discerning local market. And as proof, it began a campaign a few years back to make Mardi Gras a national holiday. Needless to say, that has never caught hold, but cooks far and wide have nevertheless “Jazzed it up with Zatarain’s.”

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Zatarain’s Opens NYSE from New Orleans Thursday, Mar 3 2011 

To help celebrate Mardi Gras, Zatarain’s, along with some New Orleans officials and celebrities, rang the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange from Jackson Square (article and photo from nola.com). The NYSE has video of the event from both Wall Street and from the Washington Artillery Park across from Jackson Square, although it erroneously identifies it as the closing bell. And I must point out, as of 3:00pm, EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up over 200 points.

PS: the Dow closed over 191.

New Orleans Happenings Thursday, Feb 5 2009 

OK, so it’s in the single digits here this morning, so I have to think of warmer climes. Oops, the strawberries and citrus in Florida are threatened by a freeze and New Orleans is in the 30s.

However, there are a number of interesting stories about New Orleans of late:

Zatarain’s, the New Orleans-area food producer, is petitioning to have Mardi Gras made a national holiday. Read (and sign) here: http://blog.nola.com/cest-la-nola/2009/02/zatarains_spearheading_petitio.html

An observant blogger (not me) discovered that if you search for “New Orleans” in Google, you can come up with a timeline of New Orleans history, with links from specific dates to open source content, a veritable “New Orleans History 2.0” (to use her words). For the blog and link to the timeline see:  http://blog.nola.com/cest-la-nola/2009/02/history_of_new_orleans_20.html

The NOPD is at it again. An autopsy shows that a man killed by police on New Year’s Day was shot in the back of the body nine times:  http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/man_shot_by_police_hit_nine_ti.html

And in spite of such news, Mayor Nagin and the city council have reinstituted “Disney-like” sanitation services for the French Quarter.  It’s good to see where their priorities are. Which raises some interesting questions: do tourists vote? Does the rest of the city get dumpsters? See:  http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/deluxe_quarter_cleanup_resumes.html