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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


Jewel McCain

Solly’s Hot Tamales has been a Vicksburg tradition since 1939. Henry Solly, a native of Cuba, developed a recipe and began selling hot tamales from a pushcart. Eventually, his tamales got so popular, that he retired the cart and opened a storefront. Solly made tamales at 1921 Washington Street until his death in 1992. Before he died, he offered his business to his friend, May Belle Hampton. May Belle and her daughter, Jewel, continued the tradition. Today, Jewel and her daughter, Deanna, still make tamales according to Solly’s recipe. In addition to the traditional tamales, though, they now offer something called a “Fiesta”—the taco salad of the tamale world. But even with this new twist on a generations-old recipe, Jewel has a respect for tradition. In 1997 she traveled to Washington DC to conduct a tamale-making demonstration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Date of interview:
2006-02-21 00:00

Amy Evans

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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