Grocery keep clerk Hector Esparza hands the end masa to customers at Amapola market in Downey. Last Christmas, numerous customers reverted masa purchased in ~ Amapola seek refunds.

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The tamale catastrophe unfolded with impeccably poor timing.

The week before Christmas critical year, world had was standing in heat for hrs for the store’s well known masa, the ground cornmeal because that tamales.

Soon, hundreds of angry customers laid siege come the Amapola Deli and Market in Downey, demanding refunds after your tamales were destroyed by funky masa.

Some civilization tried to save Christmas by offer spaghetti and nachos — a mix that any kind of family of mexico descent will certainly tell girlfriend would absolutely not conserve Christmas.


Amapola had itself a public relationships nightmare.

So, the question this year is: exactly how do you recover from a tamale apocalypse?

If you’re the owners of Amapola, you gain a brand-new corn supplier and launch a public relations campaign.

You measure up success by how plenty of customers come back. And also you wait because that the Super bowl of tamales — Christmas — come return.

“Usually you have to do something major to break right into the 5 o’clock news,” said Carlos Galván Jr., vice president of Amapola. “We led turn off the regional channels.”

For plenty of Mexican American families, tamales space as central to Christmas — or Christmas night — together turkey is come Thanksgiving.

Tamales gift ripped native the menu of household celebrations since of poor masa was type of choose the Grinch riding under to Whoville and also taking away every the presents.

Irma Guillen, 41, the Bell Gardens was among those who Christmas tamales were ruined one year ago. But just prior to Thanksgiving this year, she returned to the store to purchase two big bags of masa.

On the sliding doors the Amapola, a hashtag in Spanish read: better Than Ever.

“Nobody is perfect, you know? that happens,” she said. “Just since it taken place once is no reason to stop offering them my business. It would be unfair come the business and also workers.”

For every the public relationships efforts and also changes in protocol and supplier, Galván Jr. Stated a big test of exactly how well the store bounces back will it is in on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

“We recognize that we’re walk to have actually some very tough judges this Christmas and customers room going to mean the same quality and also consistency together before,” the said. “We need to make sure of that.”

Galván Jr. Said the debacle taken place “at the pure worst time.”

“December 21st with the 24th are our absolute busiest job of the year,” he said. “We have world waiting in heat for hrs to gain into our keep — every one of our shop — simply to buy masa.”

Last year problem appeared to stem native a 120,000-pound supply of raw corn purchased native a longtime California vendor. The gene modified corn produced solely because that fuel had made its way into the supply and eventually into the homes of the market’s customers, Galván Jr. Said.


John Cardenas that Whittier pushes a pan of poor tamales and a bag of poor masa follow me the floor while waiting in line because that a refund exterior Amapola Deli and Market critical year.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles time )
“Once we figured out the problem, one of the an initial things we had actually to execute is readjust the seller that offered us our corn,” Galván Jr. Said.

Additionally, brand-new protocols to be put into place to test the top quality of the masa, together as cooking with it beforehand and making champurrado, a warm thick mexican drink do of masa and chocolate.

If the hot drink does not thicken, Galván Jr. Said, then they recognize there’s other wrong.

“So we don’t produce and also sell the masa till we understand for certain that that comes the end right,” the said.

To gain back the trust of that is customers, Amapola launched a social media project using the hashtag #MejorQueNunca — better Than Ever. In September, the company sponsored a tamale festival that they claimed was successful.

Galván Jr. Stated the reaction against the store was for this reason passionate because of its previous success. With such a big and loyal following, the fiasco was bound to uncomfortable a lot of people.

“We take it the best hit because we were the biggest seller of tamales throughout that time period,” the said.

One year later, some customers have actually returned, while others have chose the suffer was as well bitter.

Ana Gonzalez of eastern Los Angeles stated she had actually fond memories including her mother and making tamales.

“I grew up v my mom taking me at 3 a.m. To purchase masa indigenous Amapola,” she said. “I flourished up seeing my mommy in the kitchen, food preparation the tamales, and also my mother taught me exactly how to do tamales so ns could cook them because that my children.”

One year ago, her mother was visiting for Christmas after ~ being away for seven years.

“We were together, food preparation the tamales and also for me, it was something I wanted my children to experience because I haven’t done that through my mom for years,” Gonzalez said. “For us, waiting hrs to have dinner and then to view the faces on the kids when we told castle they couldn’t eat them… It was hurtful.”

For the reason, Gonzalez said she looked for another place come buy she masa.

Still, others chose to offer the store another chance.

Adrian Gonzalez, 21, of long Beach, said his mom wanted to shot the masa prior to Christmas Eve. They no buy also much, just in case, he said.

Gonzalez said his family was deeply disappointed by what occurred a year ago.

“I was mad,” he said. “ i was looking front to tamales.”

Instead, his family members made execute on Christmas Eve v carne asada.

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Galván Jr. Said Amapola was doing everything it might to get ago its customers.

“Are us going to please 100% that the people? most likely not, however that’s what we’re aiming for,” that said. “We desire the client to … say, ‘Yes, Amapola is back!’”

Refund kind / shape of reimbursement