Five Reasons to Hate GRUMA, Makers of Mission and Guerrero Tortillas, Maseca, and Other Tortilla Evil

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Spawn of Satan

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If you're a fan of Mexican food in this country, you're most likely a consumer one way or another of GRUMA, the world's largest tortilla maker. Their American brands, Mission and Guerrero, are the top-selling brand in the United States and a favorite of Mexican households, respectively. Their masa, Maseca, dominates the industry as well, allowing anyone to make tortillas at home, in factories, or restaurants with their dried corn flour you can reconstitute with water.

Captain of industry, right? WRONG. Fact is, GRUMA is one of the most evil companies in the world, with every product they make a threat to tortillas as we know them. If it was up to GRUMA (whose American base is in the Dallas suburb of Irving), everyone would either eat their tortillas or eat tortillas made from Maseca. Monopolize an industry that predates the Olmecs? GRUMA is getting there, unless we do something about it.

GRUMA epitomizes everything wrong with Mexican capitalism, and also exposes the continued stupidity of Americans when it comes to Mexican food--if Mexicans make it, it must be authentic, right? WRONG. Behold five reasons why you should avoid GRUMA's products forever.
5. GRUMA Lies About Having Invented Processed Corn Flour
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1927 renewal of trademark for Tamalina; got the original 1909 application, too!

"On May 3, 1949, the first processed corn flour production plant in the world was inaugurated in Cerralvo, Nuevo León, signaling the beginning of GRUMA," writes GRUMA on their website. "Molinos Azteca (Aztec Mills'), the parent company of gruma, was launched as the first producer of processed corn flour in the world."

Almost none of this is true. As I point out in my book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, the first documented corn flour ("masa harina" in Spanish) plant in the world was actually opened nearly 50 years earlier in San Antonio, by Jose Bartolomé Martinez. Marketed as Tamalina, it earned Martinez and his sons instant riches. And the name of their processing plant? Azteca Mills. So not only does the GRUMA family lie, they seemingly borrow names of their competitors, too.

4. GRUMA Has Put Thousands of Tortillerias Out of Business...
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These beauties are from Northgate Gonzalez Markets, and a trillion times better than Mission or Guerrero

The reality is that corn flour made the tortilla-making process much easier for Mexican households who stuck to the traditional way. The traditional way, for you gabas, was to grown the corn, pick the corn, nixtamalize the kernels (which means treating them with lye), smush the results into masa in the unenviable workout that is a metate, pat down a masa ball into a tortilla, heat it, and serve it--and do the same process the following morning, as masa did not keep. The process was simplified in the early 1900s with the rise of molinos (mills) that made fresh masa out of everyone's corn (my dad's rancho of Jomulquillo in Zacatecas has one), but corn flour makes the tortilla-making process even easier: add water, and you have masa. But the process didn't become widespread until the rise of Maseca, and when it did, thousands of local tortillerias and molinos across Mexico shut down. That sad process started in the late 1980s, when Gruma really asserted itself.

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12 comments
Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

1. Go to a tortilleria. A real one. If you live in OC, go to La Reina or Flor de Mexicali or El Metate or El Toro, and order a couple of pounds of "masa regular" or "masa para tortillas". NOT the greasy stuff for tamales. If it costs you more than $1 a pound you're getting the wrong stuff. 2. Get a tortilla press. A metal one is fine, or wood, but don't buy plastic. A metal one shouldn't cost more than $15 and a wooden one will be more like $40. 3. Buy some plastic wrap. 4. Heat up a griddle, a comal (if you have one), or a cast-iron pan. NOT a non-stick one. 5. Tear off two pieces of plastic and cover the disks of the tortilla press. 6. Pinch off a ball about the size of a golf ball and roll it in your hands to make it round. 7. Put it between the plastic sheets on the tortilla press, slightly closer to the hinge but mostly in the center. 8. Lower the top plate, fold the lever over, and push—ONCE—as far as it'll go. 9. Lift the lever, then lift the top plate. 10. Peel off the top layer of plastic. 11. Lift the tortilla and its bottom plastic off the press and walk over to the hot pan. Flip the tortilla over (so the actual tortilla is in your hand) and peel off the plastic, then flip the tortilla into the pan. 12. Cook until the edges start to curl a little bit. 13. Flip and cook until it starts to bubble (if you pressed it right) or until it loosens from the pan. 14. Wrap in a cloth to stay hot. 15. Bear in mind that the first tortilla is always crap, just like the first crêpe. You have to get the plastic "primed" and the first tortilla will suck. 16. If you rip or ruin a tortilla before it goes to the pan, just ball it up and start over. It won't puff as much but it'll be fine.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

La Reina in Orange or Anaheim (the one in Anaheim is on the NE corner of Sycamore and East, the one in Orange is on Tustin Ave.). Or Flor de Mexicali, on Bristol just south of McFadden in Santa Ana.

Mary Jane Doe
Mary Jane Doe

Try La Rena Market in Orange. They have a pretty good chili arbol salsa. Their tortillas are good too. Mission totally sucks. And this comes from a white girl. Luckily, my "tia" married a guy from Mexico otherwise I never would have known what good food tastes like. Santos would make the best chili salsa. "Watch out for the seeds!" My cousins would warn me. And Wynona spoiled me on chorizo and egg burritos and beef and potato tacos. 

Paul Reinmer
Paul Reinmer

PHUCK THESE PUTOS! MAKE YOUR OWN TORTILLAS!! TEACH YOUR CHILDREN, HOW TO MAKE FRESH TORTILLAS!!  GROCERY CHAIN TORTILLLAS FEEL SLIPPERY AND TASTE BLAND. BY THE WAY, YOU LAZY HUEVOS DE ORO....PUT SOME EFFORT INTO PROVIDING FRESH NATURAL FOOD FOR YOUR CHILDREN.  BY THE WAY, THESE INDEPENDENT LATINO SUPERMARKETS, SUCH AS NORTHGATE, CARDENAS, MARQUEZ...AND TU HERMANA OFFER ULTRA LOW PRICES AND SACRIFICE WAGES AND BENEFITS.  THESE INDEPENDENT GROCERY STORES, FROM KOREAN TO HISPANIC, HAVE DEALT A BLOW TO GROCERY STORE WORKERS. 

Jack Green
Jack Green

Remember when you could buy, in any market in OC, flour tortillas made with manteca? I do. ** sigh**

Warrenburt
Warrenburt

THANK YOU !!! For this informative article and the truth on  these big corporate F's and their cardboard tortilla !!!!   Authentic home made is the way to go !!! Like Grandmother use to make !!! Same goes with BEANS !!!  if you ever get up into NorCal Gus , you must stop  in to Arroyo's Cafe for awesome authentic home flavor ! Arroyo's Cafe is in the now bankrupt beautiful town of Stockton :-)  Thank you again Gus !!!    YOUR FRIEND IN CERES,CALIF...And dreaming of making it back to O.C. !!!

Wwweliasavila
Wwweliasavila

where are the othe three reasons? couldn't show them?

Chris Moran
Chris Moran

Can't ANYthing be simple anymore? signed, Claremont Village Gabacho

Haideerodrigueztheone
Haideerodrigueztheone

I am not surprised by this information, indeed, I am pleased that such an article has been written. However, all the politicizing and journalism aside, the fact of the matter is that these GRUMA products stink. Literally stink. I don't know how sales have been so high for these products, I can only surmise that the folks who buy these products are victims of noseless faces. This on top of the taste. Whew! I work in a grocery and am always amazed at the number of Mexicans, even ones from south of the border who buy these products. I am dismayed to think that the Mexican people are proponents of this kind of derivative butchery of our grand traditions and that they continue to buy these "foods".

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