Phoenix woman shares love of tamales through feeding homeless, helping domestic violence survivors

Imelda Hartley started her Happy Tamales catering business in Phoenix. She says every one of her tamales has a name for inspiration.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 6:56 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s one of Arizona’s favorite traditions, making and eating tamales during the holidays.

Imelda Hartley started cooking tamales with her grandmother when she was six years old, growing up in Sonora, Mexico. Hartley has brought her family recipes to Phoenix, where she’s created her own catering business, Happy Tamales.

She has made it her mission to make a difference in the community with her tamales, so she often cooks to feed the homeless and create awareness about domestic violence. Every one of her tamales has a name for inspiration. “I’m a domestic violence survivor myself, so I decided to give them a personality that has to do with life every day,” said Hartley. “I call my tamales, happiness, hopes, resilience, and friendship. That’s the reason I make them like that.”

Hartley started her business, Happy Tamales, in 2015. She said you’ve got to be happy making them, or they won’t taste as good.