The legendary Benny Grunch song we hear so often this time of year mentions a dozen Manuel's tamales as the gift your true "yat" love gives to you on the 12th day of Christmas. Sadly, Manuel's Hot Tamales, to borrow from another Grunch song, "Ain't Dere No More."
Manuel Hernandez, originally from Mexico, opened his business in 1932, selling his hot tamales from a cart on the corner of Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street. He and his wife Rosina opened a store and tamale factory at 4709 S. Carrollton Ave., which became known for its takeout window. Manuel died in 1968. His daughter and son-in-law lived above the store and ran the business with other family members. In the 1980s, they expanded to selling tamales in food carts, as well as at local supermarkets, even shipping them out of state. The federal levee failures following Hurricane Katrina flooded the Mid-City building; family members did not revive the business.
The taste is replicated in tamales made by Mamita's, a food truck started by descendants of Bernardo Hernandez (no relation to Manuel), who began selling hot tamales in the city in 1923.