Jane Butel papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2013.08

Level of description



Jane Butel papers


  • 1956-2014 (Creation)


12.00 Cubic Feet, 13.00 Boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in 1938, Jane Anne Franz Butel would grow up to be known as the mother of Tex-Mex, being credited with bringing the regional culinary style into popular demand. Graduating from Soldier Rural High School as Valedictorian put Butel on the path to success. She enrolled at Kansas State University with a double major in Home Economics and Journalism with a four-year scholarship from Sears Roebuck for all of her tuition.
In 1958 Butel married Donald Allen Butel and by the next year had graduated K-State and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she began her expansive career. By 1961 Butel was already making a name for herself in southwest cuisine. She was promoted to Head of the Department of Home Service, won seven national awards from programming and overall achievement and been elected president of New Mexico Home Economics Association and Chairman of the Women’s Committee of Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. She also had a weekly television news segment from 1967-1969 as well as appearing frequently as a guest on several radio programs. In 1968, Butel self-published her second cookbook, Favorite Mexican Foods.
From 1969-1973, Butel was employed by Consolidated Edison of New York as the Director of Consumer Affairs where she developed 15 programs and decentralized the staff to eight boroughs. In 1971, Butel was appointed to develop the world’s first energy conservation program. It was successful and was later copied by 65 other utility companies. Butel’s radio and television success continued as she hosted a weekly radio program, “All About Energy,” in New York City. In 1973 she was hired by General Electric to head their Consumers Institute with responsibility for consumer education worldwide. She also had a national radio consumer show which distributed to 431 radio stations nationwide. Leaving GE, Butel was hired by American Express in 1976 to be their first female Corporate Vice President of Consumer Affairs and Marketing, a position she kept until 1978. After resigning from American Express, Butel incorporated Pecos River Spice Co (later known as Pecos Valley Spice Co.) and Jane Butel Associates (JBA).
Pecos Valley Spice Co. Launched its first product line in September 1979 at a Spice Sampler trade show in which Butel had the first woman-owned company. Also in 1979, Jane Butel’s Tex-Mex cookbook was published and was met with immediate success, staying in print until 2008. This publication was credited with starting the rise in popularity Southwestern cooking that came in the 1980s. Published a year later, Chili Madness also became a best seller and has sold nearly a million copies to date. This sparked a rapid expansion of the Pecos Valley product line and for Bloomingdales to order the product line to be hosted in stores. Unfortunately, Butel faced business difficulties from 1983 to 1991 citing sales of shares, poor funding and the hiring of an incapable managing partner as the cause. Ultimately, Pecos Valley Spice Co. switched to a mail order direct business, where the company is still operating.
During this time, Butel published Tacos, Tortillas and Tostadas, The Best of Mexican Cooing and Woman’s Day Book of New Mexican Cooking. In July of 1983, Butel developed the concept of a week-long cooking school which she then operated as sold-out sessions from 10 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As a new corporate venture, Butel opened a New Mexican/Southwestern upscale restaurant in New York City’s Upper East Side called Pecos River Café. The café was quite successful until personal and managerial problems led to its closing in 1990. February of 1993 found Butel building the first hotel-based cooking school, naming it Hotel Albuquerque. From 1993 to 2006 Butel worked to centralize and streamline both Pecos Valley Spice Co. and her cooking schools, opening another hotel called the Andaluz and redesigning the Pecos Valley line and packaging. Throughout this time Butel published five other cookbooks to add to her collection, these include Fiestas for Four Seasons, Jane Butel’s Quick & Easy Southwestern Cookbook, and Real Women Eat Chiles as well as a revised edition of her previous book, Hotter than Hell.
From January of 2010 to present, Butel has been developing proposals to sell her combined business in a Culinary Institute concept, but it is still a work in progress. Currently, Jane Butel is still conducting both the cooking classes and operating the spice business. She also has the intention to write more books and an autobiography.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The collection was created by Jane Franz Butel during her college education and her career.
Series 1 is divided into two sub-series: Articles about Jane Butel and Articles by Jane Butel. Articles about Jane Butel include numerous newspaper and magazine articles ranging from 1976-2014, covering interviews with Jane Butel as well as reviews of her cookbooks and featured recipes. Included are articles from the <emph render='italic'>LA Times, New York Times,</emph> and the <emph render='italic'>San Francisco Chronicle,</emph> as well as travel magazines, ladies magazines, and cooking magazines. The March 1996 issue of Bon Appetit names Butel's cooking school as one of the top four in the world.  Articles by Jane Butel include clippings from newspapers and magazines written by Jane Butel between 1976-2008, covering topics such as chili and the history of Mexican cuisine. Included are recipes and stories appearing in <emph render='italic'>Cooking Light, Food and Wine, Los Angeles Times,</emph> <emph render='italic'>First for Women,</emph> and several publications from New Mexico.
Series 2 includes undated documents relating to publishing, press releases, research, and publicity tours for three of Butel’s cookbooks, <emph render='italic'>Chili Madness, Tex Mex,</emph> and <emph render='italic'>Hotter than Hell,</emph> as well as her unpublished manuscript<emph render='italic'>, The Efficient Kitchen.</emph>
Series 3 includes documents relating to cooking schools, many of which Butel hosted for private corporations as team building events.  Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Hewlett Packard, Firestone and the Carlyle group are among her clients.
Series 4 contains documents on Butel’s consulting for corporations. Companies include Grand Union, Del Taco, Sargento and many others. Most include background information on revenue for these companies.
Series 5 has limited documentation about JBA, Jane Butel Associates.
Series 6 has product information and promotions for her business, Pecos Valley Spice Co. Yearly reports, status updates and demographic reports for the company are among the documents.
Series 7 contains letters sent to Jane Butel from 1965-2009, including fan mail ("nice letters") and thank you cards from school attendants. Also included is correspondence to and from magazines, newspapers, publicity companies and television stations.
Series 8 documents the early years of Butel’s career. Her work for the Public Service Co. of New Mexico, resumes, and extensive consumer papers from GE and Con Edison are included as well as papers relating to her work as Vice President of Consumer Affair and Marketing at American Express.
Series 9 contains copies of Con Edison speeches about cooking. Woman of Achievement award, KSU Entrepreneurship award, as well as New Mexico Woman award are included along with an invitation to the 1969 Presidential Inauguration.
Series 10 has Butel's coursework for her journalism and reporting classes as a student at Kansas State University.
Series 11 chronicles meetings and conferences Butel attended as a guest or honored award winner.
Series 12 contains extensive documentation about Butel’s publicity tours, advertisements, book promotions for things such as her books, as well as cooking schools and JBA. Included are contact lists, press releases and schedules.
Series 13 includes papers relating to organizing, planning, distributing, producing, and financing Jane Butel’s cooking show, as well as television show scripts and outlines.
Series 14 contains correspondence and contracts with Jane Butel’s Southwest Kitchen television show sponsors. They include the American Dairy Association, A.G. Russell Knives and Vitamax.
Series 15 contains correspondences with potential sponsors for Jane Butel’s cooking show. They include Con Agra Foods, Inc., Eastman Kodak, Gallo of Sonoma, General Electric, Land of Lakes, Mrs. Dash, and Southwest Airlines.
Series 16 has approximately 2,400 photographs taken of and by Butel, mainly of her cooking school and participants. There are also publicity photos, personal photos, and food photos. Only a few photographs are dated. Most of the people in the photographs are unidentified.
Series 17 has over 100 tapes of Butel's cooking shows, television appearances and feature stories. Of note are appearances on Regis and Kathy Lee, Emeril and Friends, and the Today Show. Filming for Butel's cooking shows, including Jane Butel's Southwest Kitchen, took place in 1998-2000. The series ran for seven years nationally on PBS as well as a channel out of Denver and one out of Dallas. The cooking shows are recorded on Betacam SP tapes.

System of arrangement

Materials in the collection are arranged by subject.
1) Articles, 1976-2009
2) Cookbook Materials, undated
3) Cooking Schools, 1998-2006,  undated
4) Corporate Consulting, 1980-1982, 1992-1995, 2002-2003, undated
5) JBA (Jane Butel Associates), 1980, 2001, undated
6) Pecos Valley Spice Co., 1979-1984, 1996,  2004, undated
7) Correspondence1965-2009, undated
8) Early Career, 1971-1980, 1997, undated
9) Awards and Speeches, 1964-1969, 1996-1997, 2002, undated
10) K-State Years, 1956-1958, undated
11) Professional Organizations, 1964, 1970-1975, 1999, 2002-2005, undated
12) Publicity, 1981-1989, 1991-2009, undated
13) Cooking Shows, 1993-2008, undated
14) Sponsors, 1999-2005, undated
15) Potential Sponsors, 1994-2005, undated
16) Photographs, 1982, 1995, 2000, undated
17) Audiovisuals, 1990 - 2000, 2002, 2004, undated

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restrictions: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions apply to audiovisual materials. The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

The accession number is P2013.08. The papers were in Jane Butel's possession until donated to the Morse Department of Special Collections. Personal papers and related items arrived in shipments in February 2010, July 2012 and April 2013.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Jane Franz Butel
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 20100226

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Jane Franz Butel is a 1959 graduate of Kansas State University. She is an internationally recognized authority on regional cooking of the American Southwest and is credited with starting the Tex-Mex craze in the United States. Her papers are a very important addition to the Morse Department of Special Collections' holdings because of the contents and the significance of her impact on American and Southwestern cooking.


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related Materials: Cookbooks authored by Jane Butel are held in the Morse Department of Special Collections.

Related descriptions

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], Jane Butel papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Processing Info: Kenan Dannenberg, student assistant, Brittany Roberts, student assistant, and Jane Schillie, curator, processed the papers in the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2014.
Publication Date: 2014-08-05

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