A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 20, 2007
Tamale Town; Tamaleville (San Antonio nicknames)

“Tamale Town” and “Tamaleville” are old nicknames for San Antonio that date from the 1880s and 1890s. San Antontio was famous for the tamale. The nicknames are historical and are not used today.
The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau gives William Gebhardt and his chile powder company (dating from about 1896) credit for the Tamaleville nickname, but the nickname pre-dates the founding of Gebhardt’s company.
San Antonio Travel Guide
SA Eats: From Tamaleville to Tex-Mix
But if all the above isn’t evidence enough for the elevation of San Antonio and South Texas to Creative Culinary Center status, then consider the following: the pre-tube prototype of the TV dinner can surely be traced straight to William Gebhardt and his Original Mexican Dinner package for Five. Gebhardt had begun producing chili powder in San Antonio in 1896; the Mexican dinner in its “beautifully colored souvenir box” appeared sometime before 1924 and contained a can each of chili con carne, Mexican-style beans, and shucked tamales, plus two cans of deviled chili meat and a bottle of Eagle chili powder. It cost $1. So popular were the tamales alone that one writer of the day credited the company with winning San Antonio “the nickname of ‘Tamaleville’, which is known the world over.” There are skeletons in every cupboard.
William Gebhardt helped strengthen San Antonio’s claim to chili fame when he began producing chili powder in the city in 1896. His Original Mexican Dinner package, which came out around 20 years later, included a can each of chili con carne, beans, and tamales, among other things, and fed five for $1. This precursor of the TV dinner proved so popular that it earned San Antonio the nickname “Tamaleville.”
Google Books
American Speech
Pg. 195:
San Antonio goes by the name of Tamale village, Tamale town, or Tamaleville.
28 December 1888, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 1, col. 3:
Tamaleville and Frijoletown are much excited over the fact that if Conner don’t get the nomination for ward alderman that he us going to run against “Timothy Wine Bruiser” for alderman at large.
1 April 1896, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 7, col. 1:
A resolution was adopted inviting the guest of honor to move from Lafitte’s Island to Tamaleville.
12 May 1897, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 8, col. 2:
They arrived yesterday morning to engage in a three-days’ conflict with the Bronchos of Tamale Town and hostilities were begun yesterday afternoon.
26 May 1897, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 4, col. 3:
But wait till we get him down in Tamale Town.
4 May 1898, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 8, col. 4:
Everyone of the Faithful Few that held the boards at Fort Walton yesterday afternoon would have a surprisingly interesting story to relate had the Gentlemen of Tamaletown unexpectedly walloped the Seasiders.
24 May 1898, San Antonio (TX) Daily Light, pg. 4, col. 2:
I am still here, not altogether for my health, and still hope to “turn a trick before I return to Tamaleville.”
7 September 1899, Mexia (TX) Evening Ledger, pg. 3, col. 3:
Abe had a rather tough time on his trip to Tamaleville.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Tuesday, February 20, 2007 • Permalink

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