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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.

< Back to Oral History project: Hot Tamale Trail


Rosetta and Edna Ervin

Rosetta Ervin’s late husband, Louis Ervin, grew up in Tunica County, Mississippi, and learned about hot tamales from a local Jewish man. In 1966, Mr. Ervin purchased a recipe from a man across the river in Arkansas. He paid over one thousand dollars for it, a price that certainly underscores his faith in making and selling tamales. After perfecting their new recipe, Mr. and Mrs. Ervin spent many an evening and weekend peddling their tamales in downtown Tunica. In the early days, they sold hot tamales for seventy-cents a dozen from a converted milk truck. When their daughter, Edna, was old enough, she helped too. Today, Rosetta and Edna work in a custom kitchen behind their home. They make tamales from the same recipe, only now they wrap their tamales in parchment paper, not shucks. Edna hand-delivers bundles to customers throughout the north Delta.

Date of interview:
2005-06-28 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. 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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