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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Hot Tamale Trail


Doe Signa Jr.

Located in Greenville on Nelson Street—once the epicenter of Delta Blues culture—Doe’s Eat Place tells the complicated story of Italian immigration, Delta foodways, and Mississippi social history. In the 1930s, the restaurant’s founder, Dominick “Doe” Signa, was working at the Greenville Air Base, where he acquired a recipe for hot tamales from an unnamed co-worker. Doe left the air base in 1941 to take over his father’s 1903 vintage grocery store. He soon began selling hot tamales to the neighborhood’s largely black clientele. Word spread and the white community came calling for Doe’s tamales, as well as traditional Italian fare such as spaghetti and meatballs. For generations, tamale cravings have been satisfied by coffee cans filled with hot tamales passing out those doors. Today, Doe Signa, Jr. carries on the tradition his father started so many decades ago, ensuring Doe’s Eat Place’s station as a cultural and culinary icon of the Mississippi Delta.

Date of interview:
2005-04-07 00:00

Amy Evans


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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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