Celebrating the ultimate winter comfort food, National Chili Day is observed every year on the fourth Thursday in February. Traditionally known as chili con carne, this spicy dish is made with mincemeat, beans, chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and onion, but many people have their own variations and ingredients that they add to the basic chili recipe. Chili is so popular in America that there are often city and state-wide competitions to choose the ultimate chili recipe. Chili is the perfect homemade meal to bring families and friends together, so get together to celebrate National Chili Day and get that warm feeling in your belly.
National Chili Day was created in 2006 by Rich Kelly, the owner of the Hard Times Cafe in Arlington. The day has since spread through America, and is celebrated annually with pot lucks and cook-offs that chili lovers take very seriously!
While chili is more commonly associated with Mexican cuisine, chili was not invented in Mexico, but it is also rooted in the Spanish and Native American cuisines. The first written record of a dish similar to the modern Chili dates back to 1529, where a friar described stews seasoned with chilies being eaten by the Aztecs. The term chili con carne (chili with meat) was first recorded in an 1857 book about the Mexican-American war.
Chili did arrive in the United States via Mexico. It was first commonly prepared in America in southern Texas by Tejana and Mexican women, who were known as the "chili queens" because of the inexpensive chili beef stews they sold in their chili joints. Chili spread around the country and became popular after the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the San Antonio Chili Stand served chili bowls to many Americans for the first time. San Antonio became a tourist attraction because of its delicious chili, and many people brought the recipe back to their home states, so it is now a nationwide appreciated dish.
When Texas began manufacturing and selling its chili powder in the 19th century, many chili parlors opened all around the United States. This resulted in different cities and states having their own take on the chili recipe. The most popular ones are:
Texas Bowl of Red, with lean beef and suet but no beans.
New Mexico Green Chile Stew, with pork and peppers.
Cincinnati Five-Way, which is chili with pasta and cheese, beans, and oyster crackers.
St. Louis Slinger, a hamburger and hash browns covered in chili.
Chili is the official dish of the state of Texas, as designated by law in 1977.
Being such a popular dish, chili comes with its controversies. Mainly what ingredients belong in chili and which don't. The biggest debate around chili is whether chili should include beans or not, and people have very strong opinions about this!
How to Celebrate National Chili Day
Push away the winter blues by indulging in a big comforting bowl of chili today!
Whether you have an old family recipe, or this is your first time cooking chili, take some time today to cook a delicious chili. Invite friends or family to come over and gather around the table warming up with some comforting chili.
See if there are any chili cook-offs around you and attend one to see just how competitive people can get over chili. As an alternative, invite some friends to make their own chili recipes and to come over so you can all decide once and for all who's the best chili cook.