The city of Cincinnati has a rich history of chili.
What would you order if Skyline or Gold Star offered a breakfast menu?
Cincinnati style chili. (File photo)
Photo courtesy of Gold Star Chili.
Scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, a mound of shredded cheese, wrapped in a pancake with a heaping helping of Cincinnati-style chili.
How good does that sound? Is "perfect" too strong a word?
Sadly, at least as far as the chain restaurants in the Queen City are concerned, chili-smothered omelets, egg-topped coneys and chili breakfast burritos the size of your head aren’t an option at most places.
But what if they were?
After Taco Bell recently unveiled its new list of faux Tex-Mex breakfast items , and in honor of Thursday's National Chili Day, WCPO posed the question to the major chili chains and our Facebook fans .
Dozens commented – and most seemed to “like” the idea, although a few impassioned chili haters voiced that they’d “stick with Raisin Bran” and wondered “ew, why (would we even ask that question)?"
Cindy Perkins Hensley seems to want to shut down the idea before it gets any traction.
“no. don't know why. just no.” shot posted, aligning herself with the Deadspin writer who referred to the Queen City treat as "horrifying diarrhea sludge."
The true aficionados, though, weren’t short on answers for what they’d like to see.
The responses ranged from the basics – eggs, bacon and cheese smothered in chili – to the more colorful.
Justin Michael Smith wants a “sausage patty on a biscuit with chili and cheese. He wants the option for a side order of tater tots that come with chili and cheese.”
Denise Simpson came up with a straightforward item that wouldn’t take that much alteration to get it on a menu.
“They can turn the chili cheese fries into chili cheese hash browns,” she wrote.
“The deep-fried coney, with some syrup on the side” proposed by Kris Gentry isn’t for the heart conscious. But, lets be honest, it still sounds fantastic.
Poster Lisa Haitz Jenkins doesn’t think chili needs to be incorporated into traditional breakfast foods. Not when the standard offerings are already so good.
“I would eat a coney for breakfast ... I would eat a taco also ... Why do you have to eat only breakfast food for breakfast???? You can have breakfast food for dinner.”
Many progressive foodies – and non-discerning college students – know exactly what she’s talking about.
Based on the number of “likes” they received, the two most popular posts came from Facebook users Stephanie Kidd and Lee Abney.
“They could do a sausage coney! ONLY the bun would be a pancake, the ‘hotdog’ would be a sausage link and you could sprinkle cheese and scrambled eggs on top!” Kidd wrote.
Of course, what would a coney be without the chili? We can only assume that part was assumed.
Abney’s idea to “scramble chili, cheese and egg in a tater bowl” was so alluring that Kathy M Frank changed her mind on the idea:
“I was going to say no …but Lee Abney post sounds interesting,” the Cincinnati resident wrote.
Representatives from both Skyline and Gold Star said the idea seems interesting but they don’t have plans to institute any specialty chili-oriented breakfast items.
At Skyline, the company said through a spokesperson that serving breakfast is an “interesting idea.” However, “they plan to focus on serving cheese coneys and 3-Ways for lunch and dinner" the way they have over the past 64 years.
It's hard to argue with their success over the years. On Thursday, ABC News labeled it one of the handful of regional chains they wish would expand across the country .
Local ice cream king Graeter's also made the list. But it's not national ice cream day, so let's not get too far off topic.
The people at Gold Star agreed, saying its Cincinnati chili makes a great breakfast entrée but adding it to their region-wide menu isn’t something to plan to do any time soon.
“It’s not part of our regular menu and not necessarily something the company endorses,” said Charlie Howard, Gold Star’s vice president of marketing.
Even though it’s not a standard offering, there are a few restaurants that are “grandfathered in” and allowed to serve breakfast items, Howard said.
“We do actually have a few of our franchise in the outer reaches of our market that have breakfast menus,” said Charlie Howard, Gold Star’s vice-president of marketing.
One of those franchises is found in Afton, Ohio, just a stone’s throw away from Batavia, which has served up the Cinci-centric breakfast for as long as some people can remember.
Head waitress Tina Long said the eatery where she works has a standard breakfast menu that consists of eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and pretty much every delectable early morning food you could want.
None of those items come with chili as a standard ingredient, but customers are known to add a bowlful of the good stuff for $1.29.
Long said the decision to add chili to their meal isn’t for everyone. But there are more than a
handful of people across Clermont County who make their way to the Batavia-Williamsburg Pike location at 10 a.m. to get their fix.
Howard said Gold Star representatives floated around the idea of creating a breakfast menu in the past, but nothing is certain.
What is certain, though, is Howard and many other residents of the Tri-State aren’t waiting around to see if the corporate chefs at Skyline and Gold Star decide to indulge their cravings for cinnamon-infused chili.
In addition to sampling chili-based breakfast dishes at various local parlors, they’re thinking up some creative dishes of their own.
Carmen Stroup commented on WCPO’s Facebook post that her family frequently uses leftover chili at breakfast.
“We have eggs and chili (for breakfast) when we have leftover chili. It is one of the kids' favorites,” she wrote.
Howard said he and his family often use the store-bought brand of Gold Star chili for breakfasts, especially when guests are in town.
“We sell it both in the can and in frozen containers so you can serve it whenever you want,” said Howard, who suggested making a coney out of a breakfast sausage, egg, chili and cheese.
His idea was just one of hundreds posted online. Although, most of them are just variations of the standard fare: eggs, omelets and burritos.
A former group leader for Weight Watchers, Darryl Zoller , posted a recipe on his personal page.
In the post, the retired United Method minister writes that he used Cincinnati chili and an omelet on top of leftover spaghetti to make his variation of a 3-Way.
“When I made the omelet, I was going to put the chili on the finished omelet, but I decided to just add it as the filling, then top it with the quarter ounce of finely grated Fontina cheese.
I used Egg Beaters for the omelet. It's so easy to use, just shake the carton and pour out what you need.
To reheat the cooked spaghetti, I boiled some water in a double boiler and added the spaghetti to the top basket and covered. It was nice and warm when I needed it for my plate. I put the omelet on top. I quartered half of a vine ripe tomato and placed it around the omelet as a garnish.”
He finished off the meal with a side of “delicious fruit,” he wrote.
In the end, let’s be real: Not everyone will fall in love with the idea of Cincinnati chili as the new sausage gravy.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try.
Regardless of when or where, you should incorporate the city's most famous contribution to the country’s culinary tradition into your diet on National Chili Day.
For National Chili Day:
Skyline Chili is celebrating the day by welcoming all babies born today at eight Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area hospitals with a special Skyline Chili bib and a gift card for mom.
Gold Star Chili is selling all 3-Ways for $3. The offer is good for lunch, dinner and late-night.