Chili Cookoff

October and early November is chili cookoff season. The first cookoff took place at the State Fair of Texas in October 1952, where Mrs. F.G. Ventura was declared the winner. That same year one of the most essential books on chili was published. Joe E. Cooper’s With or Without Beans includes a recipe from E.L. DeGolyer, which was also published in Jane Trahey’s Neiman-Marcus cookbook, A Taste of Texas, in 1949. Below is a letter from Stanley Marcus requesting a recipe for the 1949 book, as well as DeGolyer’s recipe for chile con carne.

Stanley Marcus letter to E.L. DeGolyer Sr., 1948






Another cookoff was organized in Terlingua, Texas in 1967 by Frank X. Tolbert, Wick Fowler and Carroll  Shelby. The annual event continues every first weekend in November. Tolbert was a journalist for Dallas Morning News, owner of a Dallas restaurant in the 1970s, and the author of A Bowl of Red. Today his family operates Tolbert’s Restaurant and Chili Parlor in Grapevine, Texas that features his Bowl of Red.


Gebhardt Chili Powder Company’s chili con carne recipe, 1949

For more books and archival collections about chili and cookbooks, please contact for assistance in DeGolyer Library.


Everette Lee DeGolyer Sr. papers, MSS 60, Box 22, Folder 2374

Alter, Judy. Texas is chili country: a brief history with recipes. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2015. TX693.A448 2015

Cooper, Joe E. With or without beans; being a compendium to perpetuate the internationally-famous bowl of chili (Texas style) which occupies such an important place in modern civilization. Dallas: W.S. Henson, 1952. TX633.C69 1952

Gebhardt Chili Powder Company. Mexican cookery for American homes. San Antonio, Texas: Gebhardt Chili Powder Company, 1949. Pamphlet TX716.M4 M49 1949

Tolbert, Frank X. A bowl of red. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972. TX633.T64 1972

Trahey, Jane. A taste of Texas. New York: Random House, 1949. TX715.T766