La Habra restaurant sees boost in tamale sales amid pandemic as families cling to nostalgia, tradition during holidays

The pandemic may be keeping families physically apart, but food is still a form of nostalgia and tradition.
LA HABRA, Calif. (KABC) -- Tamales season is in full swing! La Central bakery in La Habra has been preparing the traditional holiday staple for more than 35 years.

Owner Juan Caldera says the pandemic has kept them busy.

"We've been busy since Thanksgiving. We really don't get orders for Thanksgiving, and we really got a lot of orders for Thanksgiving. That's something we didn't expect," Caldera said.

Hispanic supermarkets and bakeries are doing their best to keep up with the demand. Whether they're Mexican, Guatemalan, El Salvadorian - the tamale has been a Christmas tradition for many generations.

MORE: Magaly's Tamales continues to give community access to fresh produce
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When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Magaly's made some changes to give the community more access to produce.

"This is traditional from my country. I am from Nicaragua. This is traditional, for my family, on my God for Christmas, or Navidad," says Thelma Hernandez.

"There are so many variations of tamales and this tradition is so serious that people say, 'My mom makes the best tamales, my grandmother makes the best tamales,' and they will not deviate from that. It's understandable because of the nostalgia that comes from them," adds Joshua Gonzalez with Northgate Markets.

Large family gatherings to enjoy these treats are a casualty of the pandemic.

Karen Gonzales of La Habra says she's keeping up her tradition with some changes.

"Every year, we have a family tradition that usually we all get together and make them, but obviously this year it's not going to happen. So I still wanted to do that myself to carry on the tradition because my family enjoys them each year," Gonzales said.
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