1940's Zatarain factory photo: NOLA.com
Pa-Poose ad: Vintage.Fresh.com
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|When you walk by two unassuming buildings in the 900 block of Valmont Street today,
you wouldn't guess that an iconic Louisiana company - now worth almost $200 million
dollars - started life here 125 years ago.
Emile Antoine Zatarain, Sr. was a Spanish-Basque immigrant to New Orleans. He trade-
marked Zatarain's first product in 1889, a root beer extract called Pa-Poose, which he
started producing in a small warehouse in the Uptown neighborhood. The company
went on to produce many other products, all related to Louisiana's Cajun and Creole
cuisine, such as: spices, condiments, seasoned rice and dinner mixes.
Zatarain's now boasts over 200 products and they still produce the first product made in
the warehouse on Valmont Street, Zatarain's Root Beer Extract. I remember being thrilled
as a child whenever I saw my mother take the big pitcher out of the cabinet, because I knew
she was about to make a batch of Zatarain's root beer. I made it for my son and now I make it
for my granddaughter. Zatarain's advertises itself as a New Orleans tradition and it truly is.
|The Zatarain family sold the business in 1963 and the company was moved across the
river to Gretna. It's changed hands a couple of times since then, always remaining faithful
to Mr. Zatarain's focus -- delicious food and spices with a decidedly New Orleans flavor.
In 2003, the world's largest spice company, McCormick, purchased Zatarain's for $180
million dollars and its products are now sold all over the world. I wonder if Mr. Zatarain
could have ever envisioned such a thing back in 1889, when he produced his
first bottle of Pa-Poose Root Beer?
|Above Zatarain's factory and office building on Valmont Street, ca. 1940's.
Below, the same buildings today.
|Left, an ad for Pa-Poose Root
Beer extract, 1921; above, as
it looks today.
|The 1921 ad above reads:
"Make It at Home -- Serve to Your Guest ~ Root Beer is recognized to be one of
the best and most wholesome of beverages, especially Pa-Poose Root Beer
that's made from roots, herbs, leaves and Indian vegetables. This is one of the
most delicious beverages you can possibly make at home, a drink of great
medicinal value, as well as thirst-quenching. A 3-ounce bottles makes 5 gallons
~ The all-year-round drink ~ Order a case of carbonated root beer for your home.
~ For sale at all drug or grocery stores. ~ Originated by E. A. Zatarain in 1889. ~
Manufacatured and Bottled by E. A. Zatarain and Sons, New Orleans."
|Left, Pa-Poose carbonated root beer bottle;
above, Pa-Poose spice label; dates unknown.