RE: CHILI HISTORY help wanted
Well Ed, I have learned one thing over the years, the best chili will be partially influenced by what one has grown up with, some folks love the spaghetti and/or beans added to the chili (such as both Cincinnatti Chili and Chili John's do with Cin chili being sweeter) and others want a more stew-like with underlying tomato flavor some of those no beans allowed, etc.
If you read the Mickey section of Chili John's (1969-1990) you'll see that in 1975 Los Angeles Magazine voted Chili John's, Chasen's and the Rangoon Racket Club (owned by CV Wood of Chili Championship fame). CV often bought chili from Mickey to serve at home - he liked it. I definately agree with the article.
But, growing up on that chili I am naturally influenced by that chili, that and Ernie's before Mickey, as having been the best (they were the same). I recently had some Chili John's California and it was very, very good but I have to say there were times before that when I didn't like it, so if you've been there before you might want to give it a new try but ask for the original. (And they close for 2 months starting the day before 4th of July or so.)
I recently ordered some Green Bay Chili John's and tried adding a teaspoon of cayenne to it but you just can't add cayenee as if it were salt - the flavor has to be cooked in. To say the least I found theirs to be bland and maybe ok for the top of a hot dog.
That said, I am just now really venturing out and trying other folks chili. And as I do I'm writing about it. I'm still making my own at home, including rendering my own suet and grinding my meat, etc., but I am coming out of my prejudice mold and trying new stuff. I found Chili My Soul a bit pricy, very different, but what I had good. My husband liked his hickory flavored whatever but I didn't like his. I really liked being able to taste the 10 of the day offered before I ordered.
I'm going to order some canned Skyline as I've never had that. I'm going to try Chilis and whatever else is near that gets written about by someone else and is close enough to drive to. I would some day like to travel to Illinois and really explore back there.
What have you found to be the best of what you've tried?