These early Tex-Mex recipes come from 'Mexican Cookery for American Homes' ...

Pages from an open cookbook, showing three dishes and part of a recipe for 'Sombrero Salad'.

These early Tex-Mex recipes come from Mexican Cookery for American Homes. This 1949 pamphlet published by the Gebhardt Chili Powder Company, a company that was founded by the German immigrant William Gebhardt (1875–1956).

Gebhart got his start in the food industry in 1892 when he opened up a cafe in New Braunfels, Texas, a town that had been a popular settlement site for emigrating Germans like Gebhart and his family since 1844. As his business grew, Gebhart also began making dried and powdered chili peppers for restaurant use and sale, which he first marketed as "Tampico Dust".

In 1896, Gebhart began a new company and a new product name; Gebhardt’s Eagle Brand Chili Powder. In 1898, he expanded his base of operations to San Antonio and, by 1908, was releasing promotional cookbooks like this one to help popularize the product. His product line grew in 1911 to include canned tamales, canned chili, and other canned food products that eventually included beans, sandwich spreads, enchiladas, sauces, a spaghetti and chili dish, and similar goods.

By the time Gebhart retired from the company in 1936, his products were being sold in nineteen countries and featured a flagship restaurant, El Rancho, in New York City. After his death in 1956, the company was sold to Beatrice Foods Company, a Chicago-based firm whose brand portfolio included other Americanized ethnic food brands like Rosarita Mexican Food Company and La Choy Food Products Company. In the decades that followed, various expansions, reorganizations, mergers, and sales placed the brand into the hands of ConAgra Foods, which continues to manufacture and distribute Gebhart branded products (including his chili powder).

To get the recipe to make your own Sombrero Salad, or other classics like Mexican Dinner, Another Mexican Dinner, Deviled Balls (Hot), Deviled Balls (Cold), and many other options, visit Hagley Library's Trade Catalogs and Pamphlets Collection in our Digital Archive by clicking here.