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What’s the Origin Behind Chili and Cinnamon Rolls?

Gourmet chili beans with extra lean beef
raul taborda/Thinkstock

It’s soup weather. Today I made a big pot of chili in my Instant Pot, because let’s face it, there is no such thing as a “small” pot of chili.

When I was a kid, we had chili a lot at my house because my dad loved chili. We weren’t fancy. We didn’t put cheese or any fixings on our chili and we ate it with saltine crackers, but never a cinnamon roll.

My mom told me she got a cinnamon roll with her chili from Meals on Wheels the other day.  I thought it sounded like an odd combination, so I wanted to find out where the strange combo came from?

I decided to do a little research and found that like chili on top of spaghetti is popular in Cincinnati, chili and cinnamon rolls are a staple in Nebraska. Apparently, this is not unusual in the Cornhusker state where even the Runza restaurants serve the two together. Many schools served chili and cinnamon rolls for hot lunch.

I asked a couple of friends to see if we were served cinnamon rolls along with chili for school lunch. One thinks we were and another doesn’t think so. I think I would’ve remembered this combo.

I found a comment on a Facebook page that said chili and cinnamon rolls was called a logger’s breakfast. Logging camps would take yesterday’s left overs and make chili and dump it over a cinnamon roll for high calories the loggers needed to complete their work.

The chili/cinnamon roll union seems to be most popular in Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Montana and Kansas. I even found an entire Pinterest page dedicated to cinnamon rolls and chili.

Cornbread and chili, yes.  Crackers and chili, yes. The jury is still out on cinnamon rolls and chili.  Have you ever had the two together?


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