We owe thanks to the evolution of Chili in the United States largely to the Chile Queens, a group of women who served chili con carne to the community in the plazas of San Antonio from the 1860s until the late 1930s. Big pots of chili were cooked over flaming mesquite fires and people from all over the city, even the country, flocked to the plazas to get a steaming hot bowl of red, which only cost 10 cents a bowl at the time.
It wasn’t long before cowboys traveling to and from San Antonio begged the Chili Queens for their secret ingredients and started planting the spices they used along the cattle trail, so they could make their own pot of chili on cold, dark nights under the Texas sky.
These lovely ladies become the inspiration for wild west foodies and famous writers alike. O. Henry wrote about them in his short story, The Enchanted Kiss. He said, “Drawn by the coquettish senoritas, the music of the weird Spanish minstrels, and the strange piquant Mexican dishes served at a hundred competing tables, crowds thronged the Alamo Plaza all night.”
Although chili has come a long way since then – with so many different variations – we tip our hats off to these outstanding ladies and pay homage to them with one of our core chilis called Texas Red, as close to the Chili Queens’ original recipe as you can get!