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Gebhardt’s Commercial, no. 2

Daniel Redd

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  •  What makes a tamale a tamale is the chili powder 
  •  Without the right kind, a tamale is just an egg roll 
 
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  • Gebhardt's Chili Powder Gebhardt's Chili Powder
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This television advertisement for Gebhardt’s states that its chili powder is what makes a tamale a tamale. Gebhardt’s was founded in San Antonio in 1896 by Willie Gebhardt, and for nearly a century, the company produced chili powder, canned chili, and canned tamales, among other Tex-Mex foods. The San Antonio plant has now closed, and the company was bought by ConAgra Foods. Bert Rodriguez’s Dallas-based production company, Visual Presentations, produced this commercial. Rodriguez was also the producer of the Clio-Award-winning Old Home Bread commercials that introduced the world to C. W. McCall.
Gebhardt’s Chili Powder Company was established in 1896 by Willie Gebhardt in San Antonio, Texas. Gebhardt, a German immigrant, had fallen in love with Mexican food, and began experimenting with it at his own restaurant in New Braunfels before starting the company. Initially, he only produced chili powder made from ancho peppers imported from Mexico. To help business, especially for those who were not familiar with Tex-Mex, the Gebhardt’s produced a cookbook in 1908 called Mexican Cooking, one of the first of its kind. In 1911, the company began producing tamales, canned chili, and other Mexican food items in addition to their chili powder. Early on, business was slow and employees did all the work by hand, from rolling tortillas to putting labels on the cans. Gebhardt’s increased their visibility with magazine ads, radio ads in English and Spanish, and, later, television commercials.
 
Willie Gebhardt died in 1956, and the company was acquired by the Beatrice Food Company in 1959, but operated under the name Gebhardt Mexican Foods Company. The San Antonio plant was expanded across 3.6 acres in the 1980s, and they began selling their products in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. Gebhardt Mexican Foods is now owned by ConAgra Foods. The main plant in San Antonio is no longer in operation, but Gebhardt’s is credited with helping to popularize Tex-Mex cooking across America.