A History of Aunt Sally’s Pralines

Praline Cook

The click-clack of a horse-drawn carriage on a cobblestone street, the sweet smell of warm pralines and sounds of jazz drifting through the air - When people fall in love with New Orleans, it is these senses that fill their hearts. Over 80 years ago, Aunt Sally’s founders lit a fire under a copper pot with the ambitious goal of bringing some of these tastes, smells, and love of New Orleans to the world.

 Aunt Sally’s was founded in the tightly knit French Creole community of New Orleans in the early 1900s. In 1935, newlyweds Diane and Pierre Bagur opened the first Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop in the French Market. They sold handmade pralines, along with a collection of retail merchandise representing New Orleans culture and Creole traditions. Over the next several decades, the family opened more stores, created new recipes, and modernized their production facilities, evolving into an iconic New Orleans brand while maintaining family ownership and a solid commitment to the city’s celebrated culture.

 Today, Aunt Sally’s operates two retail stores, our headquarters in the Central Business District and our flagship store across from St. Louis Cathedral. Every day the sweet scent of pralines bubbling in copper pots dances out into the surrounding neighborhoods tempting tourists and locals alike.

 

History of the Praline

Pouring Pralines

The exact history of how the Praline came to be is unknown, but we do know that in the 1600s, a French chef named Clement Lassagne created a candy made of sugar and almonds. Chef Lassagne made this candy for the French Marshall and Diplomat Cesar du Plessis-Praslin, and he named it in his honor: a Praline. As French emigrants arrived in New Orleans in the 1700s they brought their family recipes along, and modified them to embrace local ingredients. Local sugarcane replaced the European sugar beets, pecans replaced almonds, and in the early days of our nation both French Creole and African American cooks created new, American versions of this confectionery. These recipes were closely guarded and passed down from generation to generation in many families, including the Bagurs.

In 19th century New Orleans, a street vendor was known as a Vendeuse. These were enterprising women who used their skills during the Pre-Civil War slave economy to make and sell goods as extra income to support their families. The New Orleans name for a vendor who specifically sold pralines was Praline Vendeuse, or a Pralinière. Through cooking and commerce, the praline became synonymous with New Orleans, as a delicious candy loved by everyone.