Because Bad Things Always Make Great Things Better!

Do you really know Cincinnati Style Chili?…. Cincinnati USA is the Chili Capital of the United States and, likely, the world.  With National Chili Dog Day arriving Thursday July 26th. all eyes are focused on our wieners.


There’s something about the smell of a chili dog that’s just amazing, a mixture of traditional hot dog with scoop of chili on top just means the day got that much better. You can find them at the fair in the summertime, or along Main St in just about any American town, or even just being prepared in your kitchen for dinner. The only thing better than a chili dog? A chili dog buried under a mountain of melting cheese, because bad things make a great thing better.

The city has more Chili parlors per capita and square mileage than any other city on the continent. But, the Chili produced, sold, and consumed in the Cincinnati area is not truly “Chili” as you may know it.


Cincinnati Chili is very unique and quite different from its western cousin “chunky red-pooh in a kettle”. In fact, about the only relation it has are the meat, cumin and chili powder it contains. After that, the recipe takes an interesting twist. Cincinnati style chili is unique to the area, you won’t find it far outside the greater Cincinnati area, (with the exception of Florida.)  The city of Cincinnati has more Chili parlors per ca-pita and square mileage than any other city in the world. But, the Chili produced, sold, and consumed in the Cincinnati area is not truly “Chili” as you think you know it.

In 1922, a Macedonian immigrant, Tom Athanas Kiradjieff settled in Cincinnati with his brother, John. Together they opened a hot dog stand named ‘Empress’ and sold hot dogs and Greek food. He did a lousy business because, at that time, the large majority of the inhabitants were of German heritage, and nobody in the area knew anything about Greek food, and weren’t thrilled by it. Tom would not to be defeated. He took a Greek stew, maintained the Mediterranean spices of Cinnamon and Cloves, changed the meat to ground beef, and added other spices, such as chili powder, to the mix and began to sell this stew over spaghetti and called it ‘Chili.’ It proved to be a successful experiment. He also came up with the idea of selling his Chili in ‘ways’, and chili dogs, which is also unique to the area.



When you stop in a Cincinnati chili parlor you must also have a ‘Coney.’ OR chili dog.  The history of this quasi sandwich is somewhat vague, but Uncle Tom also gets the credit for this one.  Seems that, en route to Cincinnati; he passed through the Coney Island area of New York. Later when he decided to cover one of his hot dogs on a bun with yellow mustard, Cincinnati Chili, and onions, then topped with finely grated Cheddar Cheese, he named it a ‘Coney Island’ and the name sticks to this day. ‘Coneys’, as the locals call them, are now made with a hot dog that is a bit smaller and shorter than a regular wiener, to allow more room for the chili and other goodies that go on top.


Today the largest Cincinnati Chili parlor chain in Cincinnati AND the world is Goldstar Chili.  Goldstar’s Customer Service line informed me that Gold Star serves 1,000,000 pounds of cheese and 3,000,000 pounds of chili a year. Another fun fact: the largest Coney ever made was 102 feet long and weighed over 180 pounds! Goldstar Chili has around 100 stores in the Greater Cincinnati area.


The next largest chain is Skyline Chili with 59 stores in the area. Cincinnati has numerous little, one-store operations selling this amazing concoction of Greek heritage, in spite of the giant size and output of Goldstar and Skyline, there is one tiny Chili parlor that has out-shined them all, Camp Washington Chili. In 1985, Camp Washington Chili was featured on the CBS Morning News as the best-rated Chili in the nation. And the reputation is well earned. For 60 years, the same, single little restaurant has been owned and operated by the same Greek family, who by the way, close down the parlor every July to go in vacation.


I’ve lived in the Cincinnati area all my life and have eaten enough Coneys, bowls of Chili and Four Ways to kill a normal human. Whether it’s 1pm for lunch or 1 am on the way home from the bar, it’s pure comfort food!


That’s the abridged version of Cincinnati Chili that isn’t a Chili as you may usually think of Chili. If you find yourself in the Cincinnati area, stop and have a ‘Four Way’ (my favorite) and a Coney on the side.  Fair Warning, don’t make the mistake of asking for a ‘Three Way’ in other regions of the country….you might just end up with something quite different!

My record is 5. How many chili dogs could you eat in one sitting?  


Follow @cincysalesguy on Twitter to find out where you can score free chili dogs and Bengals tickets all day Thursday.


Matt Pelton


What can RPM do for you? 

Real Property Management is the nation’s leading property manager. For over 30 years, Real Property Management has developed intelligent solutions for thousands of individual property owners, investors, tenants and Realtors.

 Matt’s an Ohio licensed Realtor with 20+ years experience in residential and investment real estate sales, leasing, property management, and offering pre-purchase consultations and BPO’s for investors and lending institutions. Matt currently works as the Sales Manger at Real Property Management. You can contact Matt at 866.500.6200, via email ([email protected]) or DM on twitter @CincySalesGuy 


Real Property Management is the nation’s leading property manager. For over 30 years, Real Property Management has developed intelligent solutions for thousands of individual property owners, investors, tenants and Realtors.

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