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`A novel, spicy delicacy': tamales, advertising, and late 19th-century imaginative geographies of Mexico

[journal article]

Monrreal, Sahar

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Abstract This article explores how the tamale entered the national market as a mass-produced foodstuff at the end of 19th century. Closely reading advertising images, the article examines how the Armour Packing Company placed their chicken tamale in relation to imaginative geographies of Mexico from this era. Through tracing the symbolic transformations of the tamale from its existence in the street life of the late 19th century US to the nation-wide advertising campaign initiated by the Armour Packing Company in 1898, this article will highlight some of the shifting meanings of the tamale as seen in American travel literature, novels, and popular magazines of the time. That the marketing and symbolic transformation of the tamale in advertising coincide with the escalation and development of the Spanish-American War, American imperialism, and changing notions of race and place in this era has particular implication for the geographies of knowledge associated with ethnic foods and has wider import for the construction of race, identity, and difference at the close of 19th century.
Free Keywords advertising; food; imperialism; imaginative geography; Spanish—American War;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 449-470
Journal Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 4
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)