Joe’s Hot Tamale Place A.K.A. The White Front Cafe | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

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


Barbara Pope

Born in 1924, Joe Pope was the oldest of ten children. His family moved from Alabama to the Rosedale area in the 1930s. Joe held different jobs over the years, but in the 1970s, after a friend shared a recipe with him, he began selling hot tamales. It is said that the friend, John Hooks, got the recipe from a Mexican migrant sometime in the 1930s. A side-job at first, Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, also known as The White Front Café, became so popular that Joe made it a full-time business when he retired from his day job. Joe passed away in December of 2004, but his youngest sister, Barbara Pope, is still making his famous tamales. Barbara worked by her brother’s side for seven years, helping to fill and roll the tamales by hand. The Pope family continue to cooked and sold the same hot tamales that Joe made famous. At the time of the interview, Barbara, her sisters, and, their ninety-seven year-old mother, Emma, ran Joe’s Hot Tamale Place.

Date of interview:
2005-07-21 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

Download Transcript

Other Project Interviews



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.


Alex Raij Txikito

Let’s Stay in Touch

Sign up for the SFA newsletter to have the latest content
delivered directly to your inbox.