Tamal businesses feeling the holiday rush

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 9:27 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s a tradition in Southern Arizona and beyond that comes alive during the holidays....making tamales.

And this year’s holiday rush is keeping local tamal makers extra busy.

Hojas de maiz (cornhusks), masa (dough), and whatever filling your heart desires. These are all ingredients for the perfect tamal.

And they are a Tucson staple. It’s apparent at Tucson Tamale, as the business experiences an above average year.

And factory workers have been working around the clock.

“Well it’s been pretty nuts. From opening until closed it’s been line out the door, people buying 5-10 dozen at a time. It’s a lot easier to buy them than to make them, especially as people get older, so it’s easier to just come buy them,” says General Manager Francisco Ruiz.

Everyone knows the most important ingredient is love. Whether it’s a recipe passed on for generations, or just the tradition of making them as a family, you can’t go wrong.

One woman we spoke with had to make a pit stop to get hers before heading back to Phoenix.

“My sister’s grandmother would make us tamales when we were young--grandma Mary and when she passed away we would get them from just random people and when I was coming down here to see a friend who went to NAU we stopped and got these tamales and I’m like okay...that’s the closest thing to what grandma would make,” says customer Erica Breeding.

“My mom makes her tamales as well and I still think those are the best ones ever you know, so I’ll swear by that one,” says Ruiz.

KOLD asked Ruiz what makes Tucson Tamale’s recipes so special.

He tells us, that’s the owners’ secret. But clearly, they’re doing something right.

“Well I’ll compare it to 2019 because that was our biggest year ever. We’re about 15 percent higher than that.”

Ruiz says he believes more than 4,000 tamales were sold today, and tomorrow they expect to sell even more than that...proving tamales are perhaps the best thing to unwrap for Christmas.

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