By Pablo Jaime Sainz
When Agustina Leal migrated to San Diego from the state of Nayarit in 1973, the 67 year-old grandmother said it was difficult for her to find time to cook her family’s meal: Menudo.
Balancing work and household chores she had to find alternatives in order to continue giving her family delicious and traditional meals.
That’s when she found out about Juanita’s Menudo. And she hasn’t stopped using it since.
“It’s just very convenient to open the can, heat it, and serve this real menudo,” Leal said in a recent afternoon while she was picking up two large cans of Juanita’s Menudo in a supermarket in San Ysidro.
Although her children are all grown up, she still buys the menudo for her grandchildren.
“I’m a busy grandma,” she said, with a smile. “By using Juanita’s, I have more time to spend playing and telling stories to my grandchildren.”
It’s the convenience and authentic Mexican flavor what has attracted Mexican-Americans and other groups to Juanita’s Foods for 60 years.
“A lot has happened to Mexican-American families,” said Ricardo “Ric” Alvarez, president and CEO of Juanita’s Foods. “Now they live very busy lifestyles. They don’t have the same time as in the past. In Juanita’s products they enjoy the authentic Mexican flavor, in very convenient form, without having to spend all this time in the kitchen.”
Founded in 1946 by George De La Torre Sr. and his nephew, Albert Guerrero, Los Angeles-based Juanita’s Foods celebrates a 60-year legacy of quality, convenience and innovation in manufacturing authentic Mexican food.
For many years the company was called Harbor Canning Company. Then, in 1986, the company officially changed its name to Juanita’s Foods and focused on the image of the Mexican lady who had become the symbol of authentic, ready-to-serve home cooked Mexican food.
The line of Juanita’s Food products, including the Albondigas and Pozole, has become a household name in many San Diegan homes, especially among Mexican immigrants, Alvarez said.
“New immigrants come for better life,” he said. Usually they work very hard, so they are very busy, working more than one job perhaps. Also, when it’s only the husband who migrates, Juanita’s Foods serves as a way for them to eat by themselves, to remember their wife’s cooking.”
Richard Ghazarian, Vice President of Sales of Juanita’s Foods, said that in addition, the newly introduced line of refrigerated meals caters to non-Mexicans who love Mexican food but who don’t know how to prepare it.
“Juanita’s full line of restaurant quality entrees appeals to the mainstream consumer who has no real idea how to begin to prepare each item as well as the consumer who remembers enjoying their family’s recipes from scratch but who don’t have the time or ‘know how’ to prepare such dishes themselves,” he said.
Some of the new refrigerated Mexican entrees include Juanita’s Barbacoa (beef), Juanita’s Carnitas (pork), and Juanita’s Chicken Chile Verde.
“Whether the consumer prefers beef, pork or chicken, our Juanita’s Refrigerated line offers a complete selection of traditional Mexican favorites,” adds Alvarez. “Our in-house chef was born and trained in Jalisco, Mexico. His expertise, coupled with Juanita’s 60-year family-owned tradition of authentic, heat-and-serve home cooked Mexican foods, continues to demonstrate our commitment to quality and innovation.”
When Leal, the grandmother who has served Juanita’s Foods to her family for more than 30 years, heard that Juanita’s Foods is expanding its selection to include refrigerated meals and licuados (Mexican smoothies), she said she would definitely try them.
“I’m sure they will be delicious,” she said.
This is a new era for Juanita’s Foods, the largest manufacturer of menudo in the U.S.
“Our future is exciting and we continue to make great strides as the popularity of authentic Mexican food continues to grow,” said Juanita’s Chairman George De La Torre, Jr.