Tamales are a beloved tradition during the holidays for thousands of families across North Texas.
Local bakeries worked to keep up with a hungry rush of customers on Christmas Eve.
"It’s the crazy season for the tamales,” said Edith Fuerte, a manager at Marquez Bakery & Tortilla Factory in Arlington.
The family bakery has operated for 50 years in Texas, 30 of those years spent in Arlington.
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“These are really favorite tamales for people because they drive really far just to get the tamales from here,” said Fuerte.
Despite COVID-19 casting a shadow on yet another Christmas, they’re working overtime to bring some normalcy to the holidays.
"I think it's a tradition because people do it year-by-year,” said Fuerte.
They've sold about 15,000 dozen packs of tamales to hungry customers this season. A good chunk of those sales were from Friday alone, as families rushed to get their tamales, hot sauce, and sweet bread ready for their holiday meals.
This year’s amount is even more than what they normally sold before the pandemic. For comparison, Dec. 2020 only saw about 7,000 sold, as families held off on large gatherings prior to the vaccine rollout.
However, the ongoing labor shortage this year has forced the bakery to meet that demand with less staff.
Still, loyal customers like Raquel De La Cruz came out to show support.
“These tamales are the best. I’ve been here for over 15 years, coming every Christmas every holiday,” she said.
This Christmas is a special one for her family. She said her newborn granddaughter was given a grim prognosis by doctors last month due to medical issues but multiple surgeries turned that worry into hope.
"Guess what? She came home yesterday and she's alive, she's fine – I'm going to get to meet her today. And this is what I'm taking for our special family,” she said, holding up her tamales order. "I just thank God, this is what Christmas is all about.”
Other customers like Guy Sykes are starting new tamales traditions with family.
“It's something different. Something different from the usual than some turkey and roast and all that. I will give it a shot this year,” he said.
The holiday hunger is real. Other bakeries were feeling the rush, too, like Dallas Tortilla & Tamale Factory in Oak Cliff. A long line was already formed at 7 a.m. Friday morning, with droves of people waiting to snag an order before they sold out.
Many bakeries will be closed through the Christmas holiday weekend to take a little bit of a breather but they'll be back at it again for the New Year’s holiday.
Check your local business for deadlines on when to order. The deadline to order from Marquez Bakery is December 30.