National Chili Day is celebrated on the fourth Friday of February every year. It’s fitting that we celebrate chili during one of winter’s coldest months, as there is nothing better than a warm, delicious bowl of chili to fight off the cold.
J.C. Clopper is generally credited with the first written description of chili in 1828. Clopper, a resident of Houston, TX, was visiting San Antonio when he wrote this: “When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat–this is all stewed together.”
In the 1880’s, a market in San Antonio became famous for having chili stands where the chili was served by women who were called the “Chili Queens”. They sold a “bowl o’ red”, bread, and a glass of water all for 10 cents. By the 20th century, chili was known all over the western United States. By the end of the “Roaring 20’s” there was hardly a single town without a chili parlour. Some historians say that chili joints meant the difference between staying alive and starvation during the great depression, due to chili being cheap and the crackers it was served with being free.
US President Lyndon B. Johnson was a huge chili lover. His favorite recipe has been named Pedernales River chili after his Texas ranch.
President Johnson is quoted as saying, “Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing,” Johnson is quoted as saying. “One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.” Sure sounds like an endorsement of REO Spice & Seasoning Country Style Chili Seasoning to me. =P