Chorizos Marca El Rey are made WHERE?!?


I think I have been aware of Marca El Rey Chorizos (always referred to in these parts as Chorizo Bilbao) since I did the groceries for the household as a teenager, when my Mom or both of my parents were away on trips. You couldn’t make paella or callos without them, you needed them for pesang manok or other brothy concoctions. They have a distinctive taste, a very dense meat and a shockingly red color. I always assumed they were from Spain. In fact, I NEVER EVER thought to look too closely at the packaging. There is a good excuse for that – they usually came in huge green cans in a distinctive dark, olivey green with gold lettering and a King with a golden crown as their logo. We only used to buy one or two pieces at a time so I never closely inspected the can. They were expensive. They were considered the SECRET ingredient. A must have for the savvy local cook. I suppose I would not have been surprised if they were Mexican but I just assumed they were Spanish…

My wife asked me to look at the packaging closely the next time I ran across the can. Yesterday, at Cash & Carry which was bursting with cans of chorizos, I read the labels. At PHP1,620 a can or USD30, they seemed like a bit too much in volume and value to buy for a home kitchen, but they also had vacuum sealed portions (2 chorizos) at roughly 5 oz. total weight so I got some of those at PHP165 a pack. Hello!!! the stuff is made by ConAgra foods in NEBRASKA!!! Yikes, who would have thought? So many folks abroad have asked me where to buy these or what a substitute might be and here they are, made right in the Northern plains of the USA! I looked up ConAgra Foods corporate website and they also own other well-known brands such as Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Peter Pan, Swiss Miss, Wesson, Healthy choice, National Hebrew and Van Camp’s but oddly does NOT list Marca El Rey as a brand they own… hmmm, I wonder why. At any rate, if you want a bizarre food pasalubong from the Philippines you can ask your relatives to bring you vacuum packed Chorizos Marca El Rey and have them tell the officious U.S. customs officer “But Sir, they’re made in Nebraska…” Heeheehee.


30 Responses

  1. Our oranges in Canada all come from Florida but we are still subject to the severe vigilant interdict against bringing them back into the American border. I read somewhere in the www of a Filipino hapless cook who was so exacting in his seach for a callos recipe that he rejected all the ones not requiring cow’s foot but let all his guards down by substituting chinese sausage for the required chorizo which to me is akin to replacing an apple with a dolphin. Csabai, a Hungarian farmer’s sausage widely available here, is actually a much better substitute for most Filipino and Spanish recipes calling for chorizo.

  2. Apicio, thanks for that, several readers will be pleased to know what the substitute might be… And yes, in many Filipino recipe books they suggest Chorizo Bilbao or Chinese Sausage as being interchangeable…I agree, that is an awful suggestion…

  3. in a pinch, i use the local purefoods “chorizo de bilbao” (which have gone matabang lately) and add a quarter teaspoon or so of paprika and a dash of cayenne pepper. pwede na, and at least not as hideous as chorizong macao.

  4. ConAgra. Aren’t they the leading proponent of irradiating food to improve shelf life? I know this is off topic but what do you think of irradiation, MM?

  5. hehehe…oh that is so funny! I have a hard time finding El Rey chorizos (don’t know why, we’re right next to Nebraska!) but I’ve found Goya vacuum packed chorizos to be a convenient alternative since it’s available in most supermarkets in the US.

  6. millet, I wondered about those purefoods chorizos, have never tried them myself. Chris, I suppose they are one of the leading food companies (though not as big as some of the other grains players) and must be doing everthing to extend shelf life…frankly, I don’t know enough about irradiation, genetically modified foods, etc. to have an intelligent opinion. While I do understand that on the one hand they are playing with nature (like the Belo Medical group or anyone who has had a face lift)… I also understand that many such scientific breakthroughs have resulted in better food security for the planet’s billions of people… For example, some of our rice varieties now yield 3-4x more in the same area that was used say 30 years ago…so there are real benefits.

  7. Chorizos from Nebraska.

    “…replacing an apple with a dolphin”.

    this is a good start for an otherwise boring workday.

  8. ConAgra might be one of the companies written about in Fast Food Nation, will have to double check my copy. Plus they are heavily invested in GMO foods. Makes you wonder what kind of stuff they put in the chorizo.

  9. the Goya vacuum packed chorizos are indeed good. good enough that i have to request an aunt in Ohio to send a few packs to Calgary ever so often :)

  10. After reading Fastfood Nation, I have made sure I skip any ConAgra products. Monsanto being the other, I think so yes, Mila, ConAgra is one of the most notorious unethical companies around. To others, read Fastfood Nation and be shocked.

  11. since today is generally a boring workday, i googled ConAgra and Fastfood Nation and read some excerpts from the book…(

    This item i cut and pasted is quite amazing and terribly disturbing.

    A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), aionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent..

    have a nice day! eat, drink, live! (my apologies uncle wolfgang)

  12. The El Rey brand of chorizo used to be owned by some company based in Illinois (forgot the name), then sometime last year can started sporting the name Con-Agra. I guess they got bought out. By the way, the old cans used to be bigger and less expensive. The old cans went on sale last year in Shopwise and I bought practically every can they had. I’ve been scouring the internet to find out the US prices of these suckers, but haven’t come across any. Any idea on the prices for these?

  13. Jul, you HOARDED Chorizo El Rey??? Heehee. I once hoarded so much classic coke I had enough to make it until the New Coke fizzled and they had to bring back Classic coke… I have no idea what the price of the cans are… don’t wait too long, I don’t think they will go up in price as they get older… Lee, good grief…I will never have a strawberry shake at a fastfood restaurant!

  14. Nebrask na ba ngayon dati kasi sa chicago. I am betting na pinoy owned and brand and then they just have it made wherever. Lke the Marca Pina and Marca Pato edam cheese. The Tsinoy traders just order it from cheese companies in Holland and ask them to put the brans. Wala akong makita na may Marca pato or Mina na edam sa Holland.

    I my case I just make my own estillo Bilbao sausages. and it work well.

  15. No wonder the taste has changed. The texture’s tougher and it looks all extender. The ones from Santis now taste better for me.

  16. Marca El Rey Chorizon is on sale in Rustan’s Fresh Supermarkets (at least in Katipunan where I go) at 50% off; roughly comes out P40/ pc. I asked why it was on sale (of course I suspected they were nearinf expiration!) but I was told they had overstocked on this chorizo so they had to put it on sale.

  17. I was able to finally find the manufacturer for “Marca El Rey Chorizo” and it is no longer ConAgra. They are being manufactured by John Morrell and the funny thing is, it is only for EXPORT, meaning we in the US have to buy it from the Philipines in order for us to be able to make Paella. I guess all of you out there who lives in the US, we should send a letter to John Morrell so we can get them locally.


    All you guys interested in Chorizo de Bilbao, whether Marca El Rey or otherwise, should try to contact a certain Dr. Ricardo Soler who is a well-known personality in Manila and dabbles on the side in culinary activities.

    He is the same person who wrote Reggie Aspiras to correct a report in her column in the Inquirer about the errors made by two famous Filipino chefs, Gene Gonzalez and Claude Tayag, who said kare-kare originated in Southeast Asian countries.

    I don’t know him nor do I have any contact details but he seems to be the only one hereabouts who knows the facts behind the myths regarding some of our foods.

    I read his comments on kare-kare and was really impressed. He explained that it had nothing to do with Southeast Asia but rather with the British occupation of Manila during the Spanish times. The British army of occupation consisted of Sepoys from India who introduced their own curry to the people of Cainta, Rizal and who did not go back with the British when they left. They married locals, which explains the dark features of the present inhabitants of Cainta. Anyway, when they ran out of the spices used in the original curry, they made a fusion of the dish using bagoong as the complimentary side dish to make up for the lack of the needed spices. This history is now recognized as the correct origin of kare kare which, Dr. Soler also attributes to the minting of such words as karinderia and karendera as well as karihan.

    But to get back to chorizo, Dr. Soler has not written on this yet but a friend of his told a friend of mine that Dr. Soler says there is no such thing as Chorizo de Bilbao but that this was just the name given to chorizo produced in Manila by a certain Mr. Genato. Genato was also the one who made and sold Royal Macaroni and Spaghetti but apparently sold these two items, when he left for America during Martial Law, to a big local food producer who now makes and still sells them in America from where these are exported to the Philippines.

    To ‘brand’ his chorizos, which were competing with other chorizos imported by Tabacalera, Genato, according to Dr. Soler’s friend who told my friend, decided to give them a distinct brand, Chorizo de Bilbao, the latter being the town in Spain his family was from and made the chorizos spicier by using more paprika or pimenton. He sold them in small packages but later canned them in a green one-gallon can with a gold-colored lid. He also used invented the name Marca El Rey and the logo of king and crown. This is still the classic can used for chorizo de Bilbao.

    While in the States, Genato had a food company called Cudahy, based in Cudahy City in California produce and can his Chorizos de Bilbao Marca El Rey in his classic green can. He realized that the Filipino market would patronize his product and indeed these made great sales in California’s Filipino and Oriental food stores. Soler does not say whether Genato sold the rights to Cudahy but this may be the case, in my personal opinion. You see, Soler said that the Cudahy company was later bought by an affiliate based in Illinois, which continued producing the chorizos Marca El Rey in the classic can.

    This is my own idea – It may be that the latter company was bought by the company that you guys say now produces the Chorizo de Bilbao Marca El Rey in the original can and with the original ingredients.

    I have no doubt that Dr. Soler knows the facts and because of this, I have discovered in the Internet that there are only two countries in the world where Chorizo de Bilbao, Marca El Rey or otherwise, exists, the US of A and the Philippines. To know for sure, check if anyone in this group knows of Dr. Soler and his address and contact the man.

  19. Hi Everyone,

    My grandfather who lived in Madera, Ca had a started a buisness called “EL Rey Corizo” from what I understand. There was a factory in Madera and Los Angeles.After he passed away the buisness apperantly was sold…Same product?? Or at least the orgins of it? I have never even seen the packaging of it..If anyone has any info it’d be greatly appreciated.

  20. Hi Yvette,

    What was the name of your grandfather? Your story seems to tie-up with what I remember of what I was told of the Chorizo story. It might be an idea for us to see if there is a link. The fact that your grandfather lived in California, the “El Rey” link; and that his chorizos were manufactured in factories in Madera and Los Angeles (Cudahy City is part of Los Angeles county) are just too close for us not to consider this possibility. Please post a return or email me directly.

    I will try to send you a picture of the Marca El Rey can. Send me your email address.

  21. Hi Everyone!

    I found this site by googling “chorizo el rey” because I fell in love with it when I was a little girl in the 70’s and have had periodic bouts of “El Rey mania” since then. I wanted to find out more about the product that has somehow held a special spot on many Filipinos’ palates for several generations now. It’s raved about by first-time-tasters, specified in cookbooks, sought out doggedly when out of stock in one’s usual source, become the object of sudden fanatical cravings whether pregnancy-induced or not, and yes, certainly hoarded –I plead guilty myself =)

    Like many people, I’d always assumed it was a Spanish product so I was surprised when I saw the “” on the vacuum pack just yesterday. It’s…American?! A quick scan of the printed label confirmed it; Armour-Eckrich Meats Cincinnati, OH…U.S. inspected and passed…etc. I moved to a new assumption that the original makers in Spain had sold out to the U.S. company. (It was a flight of fancy of mine as a child that it was it was the centuries-old secret recipe of some aristocratic Spanish family, ergo the high regard held for it here =)) My curiosity piqued, I googled…

    Surprise, surprise…what a story unfolding! From the original post (Marketman?), to Ponchit Enrile’s astute and intuitive comment, to Angie’s research, then to Tomas Alcantara’s megawatt lightbulbs-flashing piece, and THEN, Yvette REY’s appearance! This is amazing and almost MYTHICAL!

    I hope someone does contact Dr. Soler and Yvette can gather more details about her lolo. Then everything when pieced together and confirmed will be a case of “BRINGING HOME THE, er, SAUSAGE =)

    p.s. I think John Morrell’s doing a better job than ConAgra. Around 2004-05, I found El Rey a bit too salty and tough, and the casing was rubbery. Now, it’s just perfect – smooth, balanced flavor, and the casing has a great ‘snap’-even better when done to crispness. Sigh…
    p.p.s. Ponchit, baka naman you’d like to share your chorizo recipe =)
    p.p.p.s. Thanks to this site’s owner – it made my morning! Cheers!

  22. Pahabol…Another remarkable thing is how this is unfolding over about 2 and a half years since the original post!

  23. i would like to order a can of chorizos, but would like to know if this product comes is a green can? and if so how much per can. please advice.

  24. I would like to know wher to buy the Chorizo de Bilbao here in Southern california. I would prefer the one packed in grease in a green can.

  25. You can buy the Marca El Rey Chorizo in 4-pound cans from Payless Market stores in Guam. Each can will cost you about $25 plus shipping. Dig out your cedit card and Payless Market will ship you two cans in a USPS flat rate box.

    The Payless website is:

    To find the Marca El REy Chorizo on the website, click on the “Care Package” symbol and it is the 4th iten in the list

  26. this is all fascinating info. ive always known marca el rey was made in the u.s.a. but i never knew its history was so linked to the philippines.

    just a little sidebar, recently instead of el rey ive been buying la norenenze? (not sure of the spelling and i dont have a can at the moment). i found it in unimart and a couple of other places. theyre made in spain and are about the same price as el rey, their cans are yellow and come in two sizes. has anybody else here tried them? i prefer them when eating chorizos alone or with rice since they are much softer and the taste less sharp.



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