Day Trips

Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices offers 'gourmet spices for the discerning chef'

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices in Fort Worth doesn't just sell spices, even though the "taste merchant" is famous for the wide variety of herbs, spices, and seasoning blends on its shelves. If you cook or know someone who cooks, you need to discover the flavorful and aromatic world of Pendery's.

"We offer gourmet spices for the discerning chef," says Clint Haggerty, the family business' fifth-generation proprietor. "Even chili cooks use our spices."

In a roundabout way, the company was built on chili recipes. DeWitt Clinton Pendery arrived in Fort Worth from Cincinnati soon after the Civil War. His brothers had established a successful dry-goods business a few blocks from the county courthouse. The earliest record of the business was a newspaper advertisement from 1870.

"Cincinnati is known for their chili, so maybe my great-grandpa learned to appreciate spices before he came to Texas," Haggerty says. Wherever he caught the passion, Pendery developed a deep interest in seasonings. As a sideline to the dry-goods business, he began selling a blend of chiles, cumin, oregano, and other spices that he called Chiltomaline, which was good on steaks and in stews and chili.

Pendery extolled the medicinal virtues of the seasoning, but the local cafes and homemakers liked the flavoring. Pendery kept experimenting with different blends of spices as well as stocking his store with the freshest ingredients to make any recipe better.

By the time Haggerty's parents took over in 1987 – his mother is Mary Pendery Haggerty – the business was well-known as a regional supplier of hard-to-find seasonings. Mary expanded the company's mail-order catalog to include more kitchen aids, and it now has a website.

Today, you can buy nine kinds of chili powders that were invented by winners at the Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff or all the ingredients to make your own, from garlic powder to margarita salt. Chef Grady Spears concocted a blend for Pendery's called Chisholm Trail. The list of spices covers any recipe you might try.

Haggerty estimates that the store carries approximately 300 spices, but several come in different qualities. For instance, black pepper comes in three different grades as well as several different quantities.

Reported to be the oldest family-owned retail business in Tarrant County, Pendery's is at 1407 Eighth Ave. on Fort Worth's south side. "Grandpa married a Dallas girl, so he moved the mail-order business to Dallas," Haggerty says. "But Fort Worth is ingrained in our history. We have a very loyal customer base there."

Every inch of the retail store is filled with colorful and fragrant seasonings. The store is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm and on Saturday from 9am to 3pm. You can reach Pendery's at 817/924-3434. To order a catalog or have something shipped, call 800/533-1870 or point your browser to www.penderys.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices, Clint Haggerty, DeWitt Clinton Pendery, Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff

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