Chili Cook-Offs
Students stir up mischief and fun
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Volcano chili with sign that says Winnars

In 1980, the Mount St. Helen’s-themed chili had a sign that it “goes down hot, rumbles for days, and you never know when it’s coming back up.”

Pride for the Texas concoction could be felt—and smelled—on campus during the Chili Cook-Off event in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. The annual competition was hosted by the Chi Beta Epsilon sorority as an opportunity for students and faculty to come together and have a “super party.” Six-person teams were encouraged to create a unique chili with a corresponding theme and set up a display on the esplanade for judgement. For the sake of competitive spirit, the winning team got a case of beer and the runner-ups got, well, less beer.

Collage of students drinking beer and having fun

Prizes were awarded for the best tasting chili, the worst tasting chili, and the best theme. In 1980, the men of second floor Witt Winn won for their “Mount St. Helen’s”-themed chili. Their display featured a paper mache volcano that periodically bubbled. A sign warned that the chili “goes down hot, rumbles for days, and you never know when it’s coming back up.”  

Other winning concoctions were “Green Giant’s Surprise,” “Caveman Chili,” and “Buzzard’s Breath Chili (buzzard optional).” For those who didn’t cook chili, there were plenty of other opportunities to get in on the fun. Activities included beer guzzling, jalapeño-eating or “peño stuffing,” sack races, and even cow-chip throwing.

Many students also took the opportunity to stir up a little mischief, with unexpected items such as dog food or wine making their way into the pots.

Collage of students serving and sipping chili

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