Bruce Foods (est.1928) in New Iberia, Louisiana continues its sell-off of some of its popular lines.
You will recall that back in December 2013 Bruce sold its Bruce’s Yams and Southern Vegetable product lines along with a canning facility to South Carolina-based McCall Foods (est.1838).
A year late McCall tightened its belt by shutting down the cannery based near New Iberia leading to the loss of 37 full-time jobs.
In April 2015, Georgia company Southeastern Mills bought Bruce Foods iconic Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce along with a host of the company’s other vinegar-based sauce brands.
Last week Bruce continued its divestiture by selling off perhaps its most famous brand: Mexene Chili Powder to Teasdale Foods Inc of California.
Mexene, the most common brand of chili powder in all of Texas, was formulated by a chemist from Austin named T Bailey Walker back in 1901.
By 1918, Walker was churning out 15,000 cans of Mexene Chili Powder a day in his factory in Austin. Mexene was sold to Bruce Foods in 1974 by Riviana Foods of Houston. I was unable to determine when Riviana had originally bought the concern.
Bruce Foods owned Mexene for 42 years and we have no doubt that turning loose of the company was no easy decision. We hope that Teasdale will be a good steward of the brand.
Larry Walton, the winner of the 2011 Terlingua Texas Chili competition claimed that he used Mexene in his victorious recipe.
We dug around a bit on the internet and found some historical formulae that include Mexene
Walker’s Red Hot Chile Con Carne (1918)
(Tex-Mex Cookbook & History)
1 pound beef — cut in small pieces
1/4 pound beef suet — ground fine or lard
2 tablespoons Walker’s Mexene
1 medium onion — minced
(ed.note: no method was included in this recipe, just the ingredients)
T. Bailey Walker’s Austex Chile Co. published a pamphlet called ‘Rare Recipes’ that included the following:
RED DEVIL DELICIOUSNESS
Four tomatoes, three green sweet peppers, one onion, four slices bacon, one-half cup vinegar, one teaspoon Red Devil MEXENE Chile Powder.
Dice vegetables and mix; cook bacon crisp in frying pan, stir in MEXENE Chile Powder, add vinegar and when it boils up, pour over diced vegetables. Serve on lettuce.
(ed.note: this is a riff on a classic recipe called Kilt Lettuce where you pour hot fat over greens)
MEXENE SANDWICH BUTTER
1/4 teaspoon Red Devil MEXENE Chile Powder
2 tablespoonfuls butter
Cream the butter until it is smooth and easy to spread. Then add the Chile Powder and blend thoroughly. Spread the crackers with the chile butter and crisp either in a hot oven of 400 degrees F., or under a low broiler, heat until golden brown. Enough for six saltines.
This MEXENE Sandwich Butter makes a delicious spread for cold roast sandwiches.
(ed note: if you tackle this one please line your pan with aluminum foil as it’s bound to be a messy formula)