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'The Simpsons' Cincy episode almost ended in a vat of chili

Posted at 3:39 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 20:08:34-05

CINCINNATI — "The Simpsons" made their way to Cincinnati in Sunday night's episode titled "The Road to Cincinnati."

In the episode, characters Skinner and Chalmers set out on an 800-mile car ride to Cincinnati to attend an administrator's convention, according to "The Simpsons" fandom wiki.

Scenes in the episode highlight iconic places in Cincinnati, including the Roebling Suspension Bridge, the Duke Energy Convention Center and Clifton Skyline Chili. "The Simpsons" executive producer Matt Selman said he enjoys exploring cities through the iconic lens of the show.

"One of the things I love about the Simpsons is when they visit other cities in America or around the world, and we get to Simpson-ize the coolest places there," Selman said.

Included in the episode was a flying pig wearing a Reds uniform holding a sign that says "Welcome to Cincinnati: Birthplace of Pete Rose's Gambling Problem."

"I feel like the shot at Pete Rose was what we call in the comedy business a 'late hit,' but there it is forever now,” Selman said.

The episode almost took an entirely different approach during the writing process, according to Selman.

"At one point very early in the story development, there was actually a whole kidnapping mystery set in Cincinnati, but we verged away from that in order to have fun with a road trip buddy movie-type episode. Trust me, that would have been absolutely jammed in Cincy refs and details,” Selman said. “I think at one point it ended with Chalmers being almost fatally lowered into an industrial vat of chili as the climax of the show."

Selman said on Twitter that writers ordered mail-in Skyline Chili as "research" for the episode. When the pandemic hit, Selman said he took home the cans for "the end times."

“I had seen so many TV food shows about the famously rich, cinnamon-y Cincinnati chili that I was extremely excited to try it, even reheated in canned and bagged form,” Selman said. “It’s such a bold and unique taste. Strangely addictive. I think I need to visit Skyline to really give the dish its due. Also, I haven’t tried it as a chili dog, or ‘coney,’ as you say — which I would think is the ideal way to enjoy the signature dish.”

Skyline tweeted their excitement about the famous Ludlow Avenue location appearing in the episode.

While Selman is still waiting to try Skyline in person, the characters in Sunday's episode sat down for their first try of Cincinnati's chili. Selman said Skinner and Chalmer might have revealed themselves as beginners to the dish, too.

"People on the internet seemed really happy to see the Ludlow location. Although, someone pointed out that Skyline would never serve chili in bowls, which kills me that we got that wrong,” Selman said. “I really like to get details right, especially food details. I rationalize that maybe Skinner lamely asked for his and Chalmers' chili in bowls instead of a plate, and then they were mocked by the locals.”

Selman's newfound love of Skyline was sprinkled with a finely shredded top layer of personal Cincinnati nostalgia while writing the episode.

"I was a huge fan of 'WKRP in Cincinnati' when I was a kid, so I loved using both the main theme song and the end credits song for our show. 'Maybe you and me were never meant to be, but baby think of me once in a while' does (sort) of sum up Skinner and Chalmers’ relationship,” Selmer said. “I could see that Cincinnati locals would see WRKP as a somewhat obvious reference, but it was an awesome show.”

The episode, which aired Sunday on Fox, is now available to stream on Hulu.