The Chili con Carne Project

The GREAT Chile Project, Part 11: The Hormel/Gallup Poll Chili Survey

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by Dave DeWitt

The Chili con Carne Project

Bonus Part 11:
The Hormel®/Gallup Poll Chili Survey Results




Tangy Chicken Chili

The Great Chili con Carne Project Index


In order to determine American preferences for chili, the Gallup Organization, sponsored by Hormel® Foods Corporation, conducted 1,003 telephone interviews with a national sample of adults age 18 and over during the period of May 7 through June 7, 2003. The sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, whatever that means. Here are the results of the survey. Because of some wacky responses, not all percentages add up to 100 percent.

Various types of Hormel® Chili

A big pile of cans of various types of Hormel® Chili, complete with authentic ad copy from the company. It is almost chili poetry: “If you want the zesty, spicy flavor of HORMEL® Chili, speak up. Enjoy the rich hearty great taste in a bowl. On hot dogs. Or over French fries or nachos. Give your taste buds the chili they crave: HORMEL® Chili. DEMAND IT!”



Which region is most famous for its chili?

  • Southwest: 56%

  • South: 22%

  • Midwest: 12%

(Editor’s note: apparently chili is unknown in California and Massachusetts.)


Which season is chili-eating time?

  • Winter: 70%

  • Fall: 13%

  • Summer: 7%

(Editor’s question: have you ever eaten chili in the Spring?)


What is the “key formula” for chili?

  • Meat with beans: 82%

  • Meat without beans: 11%

  • Meatless with beans: 4%

  • Meatless without beans: 3%

(Editor’s question: if you take out both the meat and the beans, what is left? Filler?)


Have you ever made chili?

  • Yes: 72% (80% of women, 62% of men)

  • No: 28%


Do you have a “secret ingredient” in your chili?

  • Yes: 22%

  • No: 78%


Will you divulge your “secret ingredient?”

  • Yes: 18%

  • No: 82%

(Editor’s note: of those who divulged their “secret ingredient,” the results were: chile peppers,
cayenne chiles, hot sauce, sugar, and cumin. Wow, some secrets!)


What is your preferred heat level for chili?

  • Hot and spicy: 54% (63% of men, 46% of women)

  • Mild: 33%

  • Sweet and tangy: 11%

(Editor’s question: did the “sweet and tangy” respondents all live in the Midwest?)


What is your favorite topping for chili?

  • Cheddar cheese: 47%

  • Crushed tortilla chips or crackers: 20%

  • Onions: 9%

  • Sour cream: 6%

(Editor’s guess about the missing 18%: Anchovies, 10%; Ice Cream, 5%; and Soy Chips, 3%.)


Have you ever used chili as an ingredient in another recipe?

  • Yes: 41%

  • No: 49%

(Editor’s note: respondents who said yes cited chili’s use in hot dogs, nachos, as a chip dip, and
in chili cheese fries, all certifiable gourmet uses.)


Why do you eat chili?

  • For its flavor: 67%

  • For its convenience: 10%

(Editor’s guess about the missing 23%: For its attractive can: 13%; and For its use of turkey, 10%.)


What is the best occasion for eating chili?

  • A family meal: 50%

  • While watching a big sporting event on TV: 22%

  • A party in a hot tub with hookers: 28%

(Editor’s note: I made up the last on.)


What is the best made-up quote about chili from a Hormel® executive?

  • No matter where you go in America, or how you prepare it, chili is a beloved
    and versatile food both as a main dish and as an accompaniment.”

    –Paul Krapf (sic), senior product manager, Hormel® Chili:

  • Chili really ignites passion and creativity in the people who love it.”
    –Paul Krapf (sic), senior product manager, Hormel® Chili:


Tangy Chicken Chili

As we noted in Part 4: Meaty Matters, the Carne in Chili, chicken is almost never used as the meat in chili. Except, of course, when a major national food company starts developing recipes. This recipe accompanied the survey results and has not been tested by your editor. However, your editor remembers his high school Latin: caveat emptor.

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons House of Tsang® soy sauce

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 15-ounce can Hormel® Chili with Beans

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place the chicken in a large, shallow dish. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and ground red pepper in a bowl and pour it over the chicken, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken to a heavy skillet; add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Bring the liquid to a boil and boil, uncovered until reduced to about ½ cup. Stir in the chili and chicken. Simmer 1 or 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve in bowls with the shredded cheese on top.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

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