The Incredible Story Of Valentina Hot Sauce's Namesake

A generous splash of hot sauce can make just about anything taste better – tacos, pizza, scrambled eggs, you name it. One of the most prized hot sauce brands is Valentina, which can be found in several grocery stores and Mexican restaurants around the globe.

Tons of products are named after real people: Hershey's chocolate, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Campbell's soups, Heinz ketchup, and many more. If you're wondering if Salsa Valentina was named after a real person, too, the answer is yes. But who was she? Let's start by retelling a story with which many of you are probably familiar. Several readers may remember Mulan, likely from the 1998 Disney animated feature film and/or the 2020 live-action remake. To quickly refresh your memory, here's what happened: According to legend, a Chinese girl living under a patriarchal government was unqualified to serve in the military due to her sex, so she fearlessly posed as a man to train and fight, per The Conversation.

As it turns out, this isn't the only time in history when a woman impersonated a man to join the armed forces. In fact, the namesake of Valentina hot sauce has a similar anecdote.

Valentina was a brave girl who illegally fought in the Mexican Revolution

Many consider a woman by the name of Valentina Ramírez Avitia to be the Mexican counterpart of Mulan. Their stories run eerily parallel to one another, making them two heroines who will be acclaimed for generations. Avitia was 17 years old in 1910 when she joined the Maderista Army in the Mexican Revolution and disguised herself as a young man in order to fight for her country after her father was killed in battle, reports USA Today. She daringly dressed in her brother's clothes, tucked her long hair under a hat, and went by the name Juan Ramírez. Eventually, Avitia ascended to the rank of lieutenant until her true identity was revealed, leading to her ejection.

Salsa Valentina was created by Manuel Maciel Méndez, a man from Tamazula de Giordiano who was so inspired by Avitia's lionheartedness that he named his best-selling recipe after her. Avitia tragically died in 1979 from wounds from a house fire at the age of 86, but her legend lives on in my ways, including on the label of a classic Mexican hot sauce brand. Next time you pop open a bottle of Valentina to douse onto your dish for an extra kick, take a moment to reflect on this amazing story of the bold girl who sacrificed so much for her family, community, and nation.