History: El Popular’s origins date to 1925, when company founder Vicente F. Garza migrated to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico. He brought with him family recipes that would one day give his future company a nationwide presence: chorizo, mole sauce, chocolate and queso. In his new home city of East Chicago, Garza established the company that would become El Popular—first known as V.F. Garza. Vicente and his sons Richard, Vicente, Jesse and Arthur expanded the company and renamed it V.F. Garza and Sons in 1964. The sons took over the company following their father’s death in 1968 at the age of 78. The family business now stands as the oldest Latino-owned business in Indiana and one of the oldest in the United States.
Still family-owned: Vicente F. Garza’s grandson, Edward Garza, purchased the company in 2001 and renamed it El Popular in 2010. El Popular’s tradition as a long-standing business in northwestern Indiana led Edward Garza to be named to the Northwest Indiana Business & Industry Hall of Fame in 2020.
Products: While El Popular is most known for its varieties of chorizo (original, super picante, mild, beef, chicken and vegetarian), it also produces mole paste and powder, Mexican chocolate, chicken and steak spices and seasonings, and longaniza sausage. El Popular blends and produces spices at its main facility, which opened in 1964 in East Chicago. The company opened a second facility in 2005 in Valparaiso, where it produces chorizo.
Fun fact: El Popular partners with Dot Foods Inc., a Mount Sterling, Illinois-based master distributor, to ship foods nationally and internationally.
Address: 910 E. Chicago Ave., East Chicago; 1251 Transport Drive, Valparaiso
—Compiled by Daniel Bradley