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Unboxing History Episode 3: Savoring History- convenience food old and new

Have you ever heard of Dan the Tamale Man? Mr. Serrato sold tamales at the corner of 25th and Broadway for decades. His popular tamale cart was a precursor to a modern-day food truck. Join us to hear a bit about one man’s dream, making tamales, and a modern take-out business.


The Tamale Cart Chronicles: Dan's Story

In the heart of Galveston, Dan Serrato's tamale cart stood as a beacon of flavors, attracting locals and tourists alike to savor the taste of tradition. He and his wife ran a boarding house for Hispanics and his wife’s Mexican meals, including tamales, became another business opportunity. He became known as "Dan the Tamale Man," and his cart offered more than just food; it was a symbol of perseverance, passion, and the immigrant dream realized. He’d pack his wife’s delicious tamales daily and sell them to Galveston locals and visitors. At one point in time, he had three carts across the island. 


Texas Star Bakery's Cris Chapa Shares Secrets of the Tamale

Although Dan, the Tamale Man, has passed, Galveston residents still have options for traditionally tamales at Texas Star Bakery, where Cris Chapa continues the legacy of crafting tamales as her mother taught her. The business has been in her family since her uncle, Mike Perez, started it in 1940. The time-consuming process of making tamales is a tradition and culinary staple for many customers, especially between October through December. Cris begins by prepping the meat and cooking it overnight. Plus, it requires soaking the corn husks. These days, fillings include vegetarian and fruit options, along with the traditional pork filling which is likely what Dan Serrato sold from his cart. 

Texas Star Bakery, 5425 Broadway, Galveston


The Importance of Convenience

Chef Mary Bass, the culinary talent behind La Cocina Market and Good Dough Kolache Factory, shares Dan's spirit of entrepreneurship and tradition. She discusses the evolution of food in Galveston and how convenience played a part in Dan the Tamale Man’s business and now her own “take-out” style establishment. At one time, eating out was reserved for the wealthy and for special occasions. This tamale cart made it convenient for those who wanted to save time and still enjoy a hot meal. She follows the same principle with her businesses.  

La Cocina Market & Good Dough Kolache, 1506 39th Street, Galveston


Cultural Tapestry of Flavor: Galveston's Melting Pot

According to Mary, the influence of European immigrants, Italian families, and local traditions shaped Galveston's food culture. Dan's tamale cart is a symbol of Galveston’s culinary melting pot which continues today. 


Preserving Dan's Legacy: Galveston County Museum's Time Capsule

At the Galveston County Museum, Dan's tamale cart stands as a time capsule, preserving the memories and stories of a bygone era. Over the years, many museum visitors have shared their stories of how their family would look for Dan the Tamale Man so they could buy his tamales. This tamale cart is just one of thousands of treasures in the Galveston County Museum artifact collection.


Visit the Galveston County Museum

If you want to explore Galveston's history and see the tamale cart in person, we invite you to visit the Galveston County Museum. The museum is inside the county building at 722 Moody/21st Street in Galveston. The museum is FREE on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can book a time to play the Padlock Mystery game or a private tour by contacting the museum or visiting their website.


The Unboxing History podcast brings to life the intriguing stories behind artifacts like the tamale cart that once served Galveston residents and visitors a hot meal on the go. By preserving and sharing memories of these historical items, we gain a deeper understanding of our past and the daily lives of those who shaped our communities. Learn more about the museum at www.galvestoncounythistory.org.


Remember to tune in to Unboxing History, available on various podcast platforms, or check out the video version on their YouTube channel or I 45 Now.







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