Many East Texas families are planning to have a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas day. But for many on Christmas eve, tamales are the food of choice.
"Something different for the holidays, you know, to have some great Mexican food," Mila Hightower, customer, said.
For most of the people patiently waiting for their tamale orders at K-Jack's in Tyler, it's all about tradition.
"You know how many I'm buying? 10 dozen. We're having Christmas eve, and all our family's going to be here. And we heard it's good luck. So we're all going to eat them and we're all going to have good luck for Christmas for a whole next year," Nanette Woodall, customer, said.
The long lines are keeping K-Jack's busy, forcing its owners to start early.
"This 4 o'clock in the morning has really gotten to me. But it's ok. It only lasts a little while," Grace Stoglin, owner, said.
K-Jack's says today alone, they've produced more than 300 dozen tamales. And they say customers order as early as September to beat the holiday rush. But, less than two days before Christmas, procrastinators are finding it hard to get their hands on these corn wrappers filled with meat and peppers.
"I called everywhere, and a lot of places quit taking orders last week, Wednesday or Thursday," Hightower said.
K-Jack's owner says today may be a frenzy, but tomorrow, Stoglin says last-minute tamale lovers will say, "'Oh, I forgot my tamales. Can I get some?' The phone's ringing, and you're just swamped."
Julie Tam, reporting.