Pace Picante Sauce: 70 Years of Texas-Made Tradition

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Tony Maples Photography


Established in 1947 by David Pace, Pace Picante Sauce was the first to commercially use the “P” word (“picante,” which means “spicy” or “flavorful” in Spanish) for its salsa, which was originally made in the back of a San Antonio liquor store. Proud of their Texas roots, this award-winning condiment company (if you could call it that – it’s more like the main dish if you ask us!) was bought by Campbell’s in 1994. What was the selling price? A “picante” $1.115 billion! Remaining one of the top sellers in their sector, the company has moved to Paris, Texas, where it continues to produce some top-of-the-line product.

Beginning his own food service business that included bottled syrups, jams, and jellies, Pace made, packed, and shipped each of his products in his small space at the back of the liquor store which he and his wife rented. In time, the business expanded to include a number of other condiments, and in ‘47 he decided to experiment with salsa recipes.

Shared on the commercial2000 YouTube channel, this Pace Picante Sauce commercial was made 23 years ago! How many of you remember the “Pick up the Pace!” tagline?! Testing the results of his efforts on his golfing buddies back in the ‘40s, David Pace settled on a mix of jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions that we now know today as his very own “picante” sauce. While doing ongoing improvements to his mixture, he continued to sell his 58 other assorted condiments for the large share of a decade. When demand for the Picante Sauce grew, he dropped the rest of the product lines and focused simply on that. He sold the sauce to a number of restaurants, and was rumored to use it during his own meals in establishments, then leave it behind at the table for restaurant owners and patrons to try. Seventy years later, his recipe is still going strong, and continues to be made in Texas!