Zatarain’s may be known today for its rice mixes and seafood boil, but in 1889, Emile A. Zatarain with his root beer.
Zatarain owned a grocery store in Uptown New Orleans in 1886 where he started selling his root beer. The demand was so great that Zatarain even-tually quit the grocery, formed a company and built a factory at 926 Valmont St. to produce the root beer and spices. Eventually he began making root beer concentrate that he sold to restaurants and stores where it was used to make root beer. Zatarain’s still makes the concentrate as well as the second product Zatarain made — Creole mustard. In the 1920s, Zatarain’s sons took over the business, adding items like remoulade sauce and olive salad to its product line. The family sold the company in 1963 to James Grinstead Viavant, founder of Avondale Shipyards.
Viavant moved the factory to a new plant with modern equipment in Gretna. After Viavant sold the company in 1984, it went through a series of owners and takeovers until it was sold to current owner McCormick in 2003 for $180 million. The company now has more than 200 “New Orleans-style” products made in the Gretna factory that have nationwide brand recognition. The com-pany opened a new facility in Gretna in 2015.Emile Zatarain died in 1959.The original Zatarain factory and the interior of the building at 926 Valmont St. Emile Zatarain originally sold his root beer extract and other products under the ‘Pa-poose’ label. Zatarain’s may be known today for its rice mixes and seafood boil, but in 1889, Emile A. Zatarain had a hit with his root beer. Zatarain’s factory moved from Valmont Street to Gretna in 1963.