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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


Elizabeth Scott

In 1941, Mississippi natives Aaron and Elizabeth Scott called San Antonio, Texas, home. Aaron served in the U. S. Army. During their time in Texas, Elizabeth developed a taste for hot tamales. Rather than keep buying them, Aaron decided they should try making them at home, so he bought a tamale recipe from a local Mexican man. The first time they tried making tamales in their own kitchen, Elizabeth and her husband worked for sixteen hours through the night. They didn’t even have a dozen hot tamales when they were finished. When they moved back home to Mississippi in 1950, they had perfected their recipe and their craft enough to start a side business selling them on Nelson Street in downtown Greenville. Aaron Scott passed away in 1987. Elizabeth retired from the tamale business in 2001 at age seventy-eight. But six of their nine children–and even some grandchildren–are carrying on the family business. Today, Scott’s Hot Tamale stand can be found on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Greenville. The location has changed, but their corn shuck-wrapped beef brisket hot tamales remain the same.

*Elizabeth Scott was awarded the 2007 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Part of this recognition includes a cash award, as well as the production of a short film, Rolling Tamales on MLK, documenting her six decades in the tamale business. She passed away in January 2016.

Date of interview:
2005-06-30 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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