Saturday, May 2, 2020

Adventures in cheap packaged foods: Hormel Tamales

I love tamales. They’re one of my comfort foods. But canned tamales? Made by a gringo corporation whose other meat products are, um, less than delicious? Uuuuuuuhhh… What the hell. Take one for the team.

There are a lot of tamale variations. Different sizes and shapes, different contents, different wrappers. In the US, finger-sized tamales swimming in sauce seem to be a more popular style away from the border regions. Venders with pots of these little tamales used to work the streets as far north as New York and Boston.

These look rather pathetic in the can. They’re wrapped in some kind of paper rather than corn husks or banana leaves. And they’re obviously extruded from a machine rather than hand formed by loving abuelas. The ‘sauce” is very watery. I nuked them for a bit and…

If you like Hormel chili, then you might like these tamales. It’s the same type of mild heat with very little actual flavor except for salt and something suspiciously metallic. The meat is so finely ground it’s almost a paste. (It has to be to flow through the extruder.) And the masa is essentially tasteless. I tried these with and without the sauce. No difference. Despite their blandness these tamales still manage to taste kind of, oh, annoying.


  1. If one can't trust Hormel...I'd rather cook like the Flintstones...better taste .

  2. Those just look nasty, and salty. I don't think I knew they existed until now.

  3. Up in the Northeast Walmart sells frozen tamales. They are "normal" size and wrapped in husks. They are surprisingly good. I'm not sure of the sodium content and I'm not sure I should look.

    1. Since I don't have a freezer I bypass frozen foods. Except maybe a couple of times a year when I get a pint of Cherry Garcia and eat it all in the grocery parking lot before it melts.

  4. I get hungry for these about once every 10 years or so. Used to eat them more often as a teenager. Love, love, love real tamales.