The chairman and chief executive of the iconic Tabasco sauce, Paul McIlhenny, died suddenly at his home in Louisiana Saturday.
While it is believed the 68-year-old suffered a heart attack, the cause of death was not immediately clear, CNN reported.
"All of McIlhenny Company and the McIlhenny and Avery families are deeply saddened by this news," Tony Simmons, president of McIlhenny Company, said in a statement Sunday.
"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 credited McIlhenny, the fourth generation family member to produce the legendary sauce, with introducing several new varieties of Tabasco sauce and with greatly expanding its global reach, AP reported.
He joined the 145-year-old company in 1967 and was instrumental in introducing people from around the world to the hot, peppery sauce. According to reports, it is estimated that 750,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce roll off the lines daily in Louisiana.
Tabasco sauce is made on Avery Island, where the company produces the seeds that are sent overseas to be grown into peppers, which are turned into mash and sent back to Louisiana to be aged before being mixed using a family recipe and bottled, the New York Times reported.
The process and the small cologne style bottles have changed little since the first batch was produced.
McIllhenny is survived by his wife, two daughters and four grandchildren.