The Delicious Tamales Story
Like so many Mexican-American girls growing up in the U.S., Valerie Gonzalez remembers the annual tradition of making tamales from her mother’s kitchen table. Her abuelita, aunts and cousins, including a half dozen siblings, would crowd the tiny kitchen in her Laredo home. The ritual included soaking corn husks in the kitchen sink, mixing the masa by hand and then spreading it with a spoon over wet hojas as the chisme and laughter heated up to the rhythm of the boiling hog head on top of the stove. The elder tamaleras would then mix the spices into the pork meat and wait for the tamales to steam cook to perfection in time for the Christmas Eve feast.
Back then, Valerie did her fair share of making tamales but dreamed of a life that would keep her in a classroom instead of a kitchen. Growing up, she was always active with school, sports and fundraising for some important cause. She always had a heart to help her community. This social activism followed her to college where she got involved in Chicano politics in the late 70s, boycotting or marching for various Chicano causes.
The Creation of Delicious Tamales
As she watched cousins and older siblings go off to college, there was never a doubt in her mind that’s where she was headed too and that social work was what she would study. “Educate yourself so you can better yourself” was her father’s mantra to his seven children. All seven siblings realized their dream of a college education and all seven graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, their college degrees ranging from social work to architecture to radio/television/film. She came to San Antonio in 1979 to complete her master’s degree in social work at Our Lady of the Lake University with a full scholarship then got married and started a business and a family a few years later.
Although the joy of making tamales at home has been experienced by Hispanic people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, this age-old tradition is being replaced by the need for convenience due to fast-paced lifestyles and overextended schedules. The growing demand for already-made tamales led Gonzalez and her former husband to invest $500 to open Delicious Tamales in 1980 at 1901 Cincinnati Rd. Their second location, which now serves as the company headquarters, was opened in 1983 at 1330 Culebra Rd. The original Delicious Tamales was opened in the mid-60s on Castroville Rd. by his parents. That initial $500 investment has turned into a multi million dollar corporation with five locations across the city and now includes nationwide shipping (1-800-Tamale-1).
Today, Delicious Tamales is the leading manufacturer of tamales in San Antonio, selling more than 2.1 million each year, which translates to 70 dozen tamales produced every 2 minutes from its 30,000-square-foot factory. The state-inspected product has been voted “Best Tamales” for several consecutive years (1996-2006) in the Reader’s Choice Awards sponsored by the San Antonio Express-News. Recently, the company was listed among the Top 25 Hispanic-Owned Businesses in San Antonio by the San Antonio Business Journal.
Gonzalez’s political and community activism has not faltered over the years. She is still active in her local community and is a member of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Greater Chamber of Commerce. She also sits on the board of directors of The Madonna Center in San Antonio and is a UT Foundation Member. In 2001, Gonzalez created the Delicious Inc. Scholarship Fund, which annually gives $500 to a deserving undergraduate student from Laredo with plans to return and work in their local community.
Delicious Inc. was formed in 1985. It is 100% woman- and Hispanic-owned. Gonzalez serves as president and CEO and her daughter, Herlinda Lopez, serves as vice-president.