Friday, January 25, 2013

Skyline Chili; The Awful Truth

                                                 
I had heard and read about the famous Skyline Chili restaurant chain for years.  It's been featured in travel logs and any feature on Cincinnati, Ohio always trumps your need to visit a Skyline Chili restaurant when you visit that city.  Midwestern cultists offer hosannas about this chili formulas and Yahoo Groups even dedicate their lives to promoting this stuff.

So yesterday I was in Walmart and found Skyline Chili on their shelves.  It was priced at $2.86 cents, clearly twice the cost of any other leading brand of canned chili.  Never the less, having heard of so many praising this chili, I paid up and brought this stuff home.

Since I'm on the Atkins Diet I figured I would make a meal of this by covering a couple of turkey hot dogs with some of this infamous chili.  OMG!  This stuff immediately ruined a couple of perfectly good hot dogs.  It is sickeningly sweet and contains not a hint of spiciness.  Skyline boasts their use of cinnamon and chocolate in their recipe which, in proportion, is not a bad thing.  However, this chili tastes like you have poured a half gallon of pancake syrup into your chili.  Absolutely horrible!

Adding insult to injury, I would wager there's not a tablespoon of meat in this chili; it's just a thin, runny gruel so sweet it attacks the taste buds and overpowers the taste of anything it is used with.  Since the meat content is so small the chili, if you can call it that, is grossly overpriced.  The profit margins on this stuff must be terrific!

Folks, I've lowered my admiration for Midwesterners.  Anyone who champions this stuff as "chili" are simply panty-waist simpletons who have no taste for real chili.  Anyone west of the Mississippi would laugh at Midwestern palates who savor this crap.  Especially offensive is a lack of tomato, or even a hint of peppery and spicy goodness that we in the west expect in a respectable chili.

After tasting this stuff I was interested in the Yelp reviews for the restaurant fare.  After reading the reviews I see that we in the West are of like mind.  While the local yokels in Cincinnati were praising their three way, four way and five way chili and noodles, with heaps of cheddar cheese, the "out of town" folks were wondering what all the fuss was about and didn't care for it at all.  "An Acquired Taste, I guess" was the kindest review I found in reviews by those from the West.

This is a public service announcement for all of us here from the West, who know what real chili should taste like.  Do yourself a favor and save yourself $2.86 for a can of over-sweetened gruel that is destined to go down the garbage disposal.

P.S.  I posted this review on Craig's List, Cincinnati so I expect to be ruthlessly attacked post haste!

P.S.S.  As an aside, I just wanted to add that my attack of Midwesterners as "panty-waists" is meant to be a light hearted jab about what "real chili" should be.  Those who know me know how much I admire those from the Midwest.  To me they represent what is best about traditional America; hardworking, God-fearing Americans and so friendly and warm.  We would all be better off if we emulated the morals of those in America's heartland.....but they don't know what "real" chili is. :)

62 comments:

  1. Skyline sucks. It's very overrated. Cincinnati style chili, is more of a spaghetti sauce, to be topped with cheese. Not a true chili. The best in my opinion is Dixie chili, they started in 1929, compared to skyline in the 50's.

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    1. I've heard wonders about Dixie, never tried it. Just to be that guy though, I'll point out that Skyline was founded around 1949 I believe which was before Dixie. The original Cincinnati Chili was Empress chili which was started in the '30's by a Greek immigrant. Both the founders of Skyline and Dixie were also Greek immigrants who had previously worked for the owner of Empress.

      (On a side note, Gold Star was founded in the '60's by a Jordanian immigrant, which is my theory as to why it's nowhere near as good. Got away from the Greek roots of the stuff.)

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    2. Im good friends with a family member of the owners of Goldstar. The conversation we had when I found out he wasn't greek. (I should have known really his culture was definitely not greek).

      Anyhoo, Goldstar is better than skyline imo. It's thicker and there is more meat. Dixie is the best.

      Skyline just sucks.

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  2. You're right anon...and I've seen more meat in a commercial spaghetti sauce than there is in Skyline...I would think anything you put it on would become just a soggy mess since it's so watery.

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  3. Skyline is off the list! Thanks for the favor of trying it first.

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  4. Ken, I just saved you $2.86 cents so I'll expect my 1 percent "agent" commission for saving you from a bad purchase. Most canned chili is sub par to the home-made stuff but this stuff is truly horrible.

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    1. I'll stick with Mom's. Your check is in the mail.

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    2. I love skyline 4 way with extra onions and hot sauce. Never had any in a can though. I always get it over noodles. For $4, it's usually more than I can eat. I'm glad they have expanded to Florida.

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  5. As a Cincinnati native I am fortunate to have traveled within the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada not only to appreciate all the natural wonders that exist but also to be able to form an unbiased opinion that is based on my experiences. Having said that there is two types of Chili in Cincinnati..Cincinnati "Style" and the "other" kind which is consistent to most other places I have been. I agree that Cincinnati Style Chili is more like sauce
    than a hearty Chili as one who is not from Cincinnati would expect. It is an acquired taste as my visitors have pointed out although when Cincinnati Style Chili is used in a layered tortilla chip dip it tends to be more palatible to others who have not stretched the term Chili to include Cincinnati Style "Gruel".
    I agree way overpriced and over rated also.

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  6. Thank you Cincinnati native. Something that I didn't mention in my essay is that I love chili immensely, thus my inclination to deride Skyline Chili. I have eaten and enjoyed dozens of variations of chili...and have appreciated what a "complete" meal it can be. With or without beans, Texas style beef chili, chili with many different vegetables added, all have proven to be delightful discoveries.

    That's why I was so disappointed in a chili that had been talked and written about so much, then proven to be "not good" to be kind.

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  7. While I agree with you, Skyline is not Chili, I still love the stuff.

    I down no one for their own particular tastes, to each his/her own I say. I for one cannot even stand the smell of Mustard much less stomach the taste of it, it honestly makes me sick to my stomach just to smell it, but I know there are 100s of thousands out there that absolutely love mustard.

    With that said, you are right, Skyline, Gold Star (my personal favorite), Dixie, Empress, Camp Washington, Blue Ash, and a host of other "Cincinnati Style" chili places do not serve real honest to goodness Chili. If true Chili is what you are looking for and you have not grown up in this area then I highly recommend you not try one of these places. I have no idea why they started calling this chili in the first place, I personally think Spaghetti Sauce would have been a much better term. I often introduce out of town guests to one of my local favorite chili places (BTW Have you ever tried Goetta?) and one of their first comments is always "This doesn’t even taste like chili."

    I think the problem is most people hear “Chili” and go into it expecting chili, and that is not what it is. Cincinnati Chili was originally designed to put over spaghetti and then topped with a finely grated cheddar Cheese & diced Onions, and served with crackers. Later it was also added as a topping to hot dogs with the same Cheese & Onions, and typically includes Mustard (YUCK) as well and they call that a "Coney". It has a unique flavor all its own and where as there is very little variance in Chili styles (Traditional or White) pasta sauces have a whole host of flavors – Traditional, Alfredo, Italian Sausage, Marinara, Pesto, Bolognese, etc…...... so they should have just named it Cincinnati Pasta Sauce.

    As I said I agree this is not, and should not be called, Chili but it is still a great dish and a huge local favorite, that whether you like it or not, has to be at least sampled when in the area.

    Kevin

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  8. Thanks, Ken. I agree with everything you said. And if I'm ever in Cincinatti (most probably for a Reds game), I promise to go try a four or five way at CC.

    Alas, now that you've mentioned all of those other brand names you have again awakened my curiosity
    and I'll have to look all of them up on Google.

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  9. You see what I mean about "Midwesterners" folks? Even when I attack one of their iconic foods they write with such graciousness, even when disagreeing with me! These are God's favored people! If I were to criticize a westerner's fave I'd be drawn and quartered and hung up to dry! Bless em!

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  10. I stumbled upon this blog from your cl link as i'm always curious about the rants and raves section lol. I agree being a Cincinnati native currently that Skyline is HIGHLY overrated but then again people here think LaRosas is real pizza when it's just mostly disgusting sauce smothered over pizza dough. I was in no way insulted by anything you wrote because Cincinnati is slow to catch up with most cities in other areas so they like to claim being a leader in Chili (really?). It is pretty odd and I would encourage you to look up LaRosas if you haven't already and see how brainwashed some of these people are around here about pizza if you think its bad with chili.

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  11. No problem, I call it like I see it.....

    To be honest though while I highly recommend that you try the other brands to be honest there is very little difference in them all. They are all Cincinnati Style and have that sweet cinnamony taste. I prefer Gold Star because I think it has just a little more meat. I will often even add meat to it when I make it a home. Give the others a fair shake but expect the same "style" from each of them.

    I have travelled around the world a few times and I have lived in several locations throughout the US from San Diego to NY and hear to say there is nothing better than a big bowl of thick beefy real chili on a cold winter day to warm your bones!! I do enjoy an authnetic style chili.....

    Next time you are in town try the other local favorite Goetta. It is a German breakfast meat made from pinwheel oatmeal and pork products. It is best if the patties are 1/4 inch thick or so and are fired crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. If it is flat and fried crispy all the way through it will not be very good.

    It is so popular in this area they even have an entire festival for it in the fall called Goettafest. You can get all kinds of Goetta dishes - Goetta patties, goetta pizza, goetta balls, goetta nachos, goetta fried rice, you get the idea.

    Glier's Goettafest - August 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th 2013 Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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  12. Thanks for the tip, Kevin. I just googled Goetta and it looks wonderful! I would suspect the oatmeal is a binder, much like crackers are the binder for meatloaf. Will definitely give that a try if I have the chance.

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  13. Anon, I've seen LaRosa's somewhere...don't believe I've ever eaten their pizza but I'll take your word for it.

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  14. Well, look @ all the worldly traveled people we have here, now pat yourselves on the back & go BLOW smoke elsewhere. Why, just yesterday, I started with 2 cheese coneys w/ mustard & onions, then a third one, then finished with my fourth and final coney. I was sitting in Skyline (Monfort Heights to be exact). Long ago a family started with one location, sorry, but I don't have the exact count for locations today. I do know, that a restaurant group made a $$ offer the family couln't pass up. With all that said, alot of people know what is good about this chili. So, in closing, take your opinion & the can of chili and put both down the drain.....You are right in saying we are (as you stated) behind in times & takes us awhile to catch up. That is one of the finer qualitys of life for those of us born and raised in the Mid-west. We take our time & think things over before plunging into whatever, just for the sake of saying "oh yea, we have been doing that for a long time". For those in the "West" that did not think things over before "plunging" in, are now immortalized on a quilt.
    "Enjoy your West ways and your style of chili & we will enjoy ours. :)

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  15. Anon, this blogger at no time said anything about Cincinatti being backwards. That comment came from one of your home town folks, not a "westerner". Enjoy your chili.

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  16. Anon, I never said one thing bad about our Cincinnati Chili, I simply said it should not be called chili. I love it and it is one of my favorite things about this area. If I no longer lived here I would have the stuff shipped in if I couldnt buy it a local store.

    As a matter of fact in the early 90's I had a job where my regular routine was on the road traveling for three weeks and home for a week. I did this every month, three weeks traveling, one week home, three weeks traveling, one week home, rinse and repeat. Did that for almonst 2 years. Most often I would spend one to two days in each city working then fly to the next. In the three weeks I was on the road, I would literally be in 8 to 12 different cities! But the one thing I always looked forward to was coming back home to Gold Star. Actually after the first three months of this routine I developed a new routine. I would land in CVG and my cousin, who always picked me up, would drive straight to Gold Star, without even talking about it he knew by that time that was the first place I stopped, before I even went home. That was always my treat to myself as soon as I landed, straight to Gold Star, EVERY SINGLE TIME I RETURNED!!

    So as much of a "wordly traveler" as I am, I have never lost my taste for Cincinnati Pasta Sauce!! ;-)

    P.S. Now I know what is for lunch!

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  17. Don't ever buy chili out of a can, to me that is like eating glorified dog food. My family always buys 'cincinnati chili recipe' seasoning packets and a small can of tomato paste we always add a chili pepper or two and sometimes the beans it is much better that way. Alot of us cincinnatians grew up on our style of chili its not for everyone. If you are ever in town try Camp Washington chili they are the best alot more meat than the franchisers. But yeah buy your own hamburger cook that stuff up and add seasoning couple chili peppers and some beans and tomato paste its a world of difference!

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  18. also cheese coneys are always soggy kinda grosses me out used to not be that way now everyone waters their stuff down cheap bastards!

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  19. Thanks, anon. Thanks for the tip on using the seasoning packets and making my own, with my own hamburger meat. Always looking for a good chili recipe.

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  20. No problem, if you like beans in yours make sure you cook them seperately then add those towards the last half hour
    Cheers!

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  21. It's not bad if it is in a bun with cheese. It's better if it is in a restaurant also. I think part of it is growing up with the chili. I don't think it's something worth jumping up and down over, but it's not bad to go with a group. My boyfriend's family is fromm Cincinnati and they love it. I don't mind stopping now and then to get a bite there.

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  22. You sir are a pansy extraordinaire. Atkins diet? Please... You have no business at all critiquing a Ritz cracker. Get on your little gluten free bandwagon and pedal to your Yoga class

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  23. Stevie, Stevie, Stevie...before one dares to call someone a pansy, one must drop the "i.e." from your name and assume adulthood, as 99.99 percent of the rest of us do. Pansy indeed.

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  24. I ate a can of Skyline Chili and Spaghetti for lunch today and twelve hours later I am still sick as a dog. I've had to vomit several times and have severe diarrhea. I can't even hold down water. Cold sweats, dry heaves, and a light fever have also been a part of the symptoms that arose less than two hours after eating the Skyline. It's due either to the chili containing a highly inhospitable combination of ingredients or it's food poisoning. I am inclined to believe that it's the latter.

    While the stuff didn't taste bad going down, it was by no means chili of any sort. I've lived in the Southwest all of my life. Down here chilli actually means chilli. I don't know what one might classify the Skyline stuff as but, it's certainly not chili -- perhaps watered down goop of some variety. The spaghetti would have been better with regular old spaghetti sauce.

    Anyway, after today's experience I will be discarding the other cans of Skyline. I didn't pay for it as we are acquainted with an old dude who is forever buying more of this this stuff than he can eat and then giving it away. We happened to be the latest recipient. We also received a couple dozen packets of Cincinnati Recipe chili mix. I made a pot of "chili" earlier this month using the mix, ground beef, tomato paste, and Rotel tomatoes and green chilies. That turned out okay. It still wasn't quite chilli but, wasn't bad either.

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  25. The canned version is awful, as I discovered after ordering 10 cans of it (I dont live in Ohio so I can't get any of it). The in store chili is amazing, I promise.

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  26. When you try Skyline chili never buy it in the can, get the frozen tub or even the frozen microwave version.

    The best way to have Skyline is to get it right from the store. I don't get the sweet part though, Skyline is not sweet in the slightest. Thats the main thing that sets Cincinnati style chili apart from the others is the fact it doesn't have the super sweet tomato juice/paste flavor all other chili has.

    I feel like this blog post is some type of troll or someone switched labels on your can.

    PS Never buy canned chili, if you were a true foodie you would only eat fresh.

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  27. I'm sorry but the only Skyline chili available in Arizona is in the can in Walmart...no frozen stuff available...thanks much but i think i'll stick to good old southwest chili.

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  28. It's a tossup between Skyline and Gold Star as to which is the most revolting. *REAL* chili is thick with chunky meat and tomatoes and smokes when you drop it on the table...

    -- Kentucky Native

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  29. Skyline chili is irresistible.

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  32. Skyline chili is a symbol of what America is all about. While all you pussies bitch about how sweet it is, you miss the larger picture. Skyline started from Greek immigrants who brought you the gyro and the potato pancake. How about Taco Bell or Chipolte? You hate them too? It's about where you live and heritage to your community. Let's leave it at don't knock it till you try it. I had to plead with my kids to try other chili and you know what?, they know beans in chili are filler for flavor. So I'll eat my coneys and you pukes eat your meat and bean soup.

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  33. You can't expect anyone to take you seriously. You didn't actually try the chili fresh. You tried it from a can and hated it. Congrats, but you did not really have Cincinnati chili. Particularly because you ate it over hotdogs. Gross.

    I don't think you can write off a food without really having tried it.

    You have not tried it.

    Your half assed attempt doesn't count.

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    1. AGREED! (have worked at skyline chili for 4 years, and been eating it since i could eat solid foods) LOVE IT

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    2. AGREED! (have worked at skyline chili for 4 years, and been eating it since i could eat solid foods) LOVE IT

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  34. Hey, numbnuts anonymous...i was giving a review of the canned shit...and, no, I'm not flying all the way to Ohio to try that shit you called Chili.

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  35. ok w!ho the hell are you all thinking that Skyline Chili is not awesome f*** all of you you are all so f****** stupid when I was a little kid my parents used to take me and my brother and my sister to skyline all the time when they first introduced us to skyline we fell in love immediately you are also stupid seriously Skyline Chili was not meant or designed to be a thick chili substance it was meant to be more of a flavor to add to things such as pasta hot dogs and other things so whatever douchebag decides to put down Skyline Chili on here is a complete retarded moron sorry to be so blunt but you are a f***** yeah I know that sounds bad but you know what no nobody puts down Skyline Chili because skyline she'll be is the f****** s*** hahahahaha yeah so guess what why don't you just go back down to your southern Georgia or whatever because I live in Tennessee by the way and have your little precious chili cook-off chili that you thinks better than skyline and it shut the f*** up and stop insulting skyline because skyline is the shiznit nIgga

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  36. Coming from the mouth of a guy from Texas, where it's illegal to take 3 sips of beer while standing. Take your spicy chile with whatever you put in it and shove it up your collective asses.

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  37. Skyline Chili isn't real chili. It should be called Skyline Meat Sauce.

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  38. If you think the Cincinnati Chili is bad, the City is a lot worse. I'm embarrassed to tell anyone i was born in that place.

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  39. I bought the skyline chilli and was very watery and very little flavor, I was very disappointed because it was the most expensive can chilli sauce with meat on the shelf but it really didn't even have meat in it for 3.31 for a small can of watered down mess.

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  40. Skyline if you are listening please improve on your product before putting on shelves .

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  41. Love Cincinnati Skyline Chili. Nashville had a few restaurants maybe 25 or so years ago. My family can take it or leave it. I am not sure it is "an acquired taste". I loved it from day one. Many taste are regional. Georgians love boiled peanuts. I don't get it. I know it isn't chili as most of think of chili. LOVE it.

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  42. Love Cincinnati Skyline Chili. Nashville had a few restaurants maybe 25 or so years ago. My family can take it or leave it. I am not sure it is "an acquired taste". I loved it from day one. Many taste are regional. Georgians love boiled peanuts. I don't get it. I know it isn't chili as most of think of chili. LOVE it.

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  43. I myself have lived 40 minutes east of Cincinnati my entire life, so Skyline is something that is very common where I live. Also like to brag about the fact that I have proudly worked at my local Skyline Chili franchise for 4 years now. I want to start out by quoting you, as you described the "Cincinnati Style" chili as not being chili at all which is funny because thats exactly what it is.. Cincinnati style... meaning that to the locals, this is real chili, making it unjust for someone not from the area to refer to it as not real chili. Also, the stuff you buy in a can is no where near as delicious as the chili you will be blessed to eat at an authentic Skyline Chili restaraunt. Maybe you should consider visiting the actual diner before dissing the chili out of a can. $2.86 is the price of a can of Skyline Chili where you purchased it. In Batesville, Indiana, you can get a can of Skyline Chili for a dollar and 7 cents. At the particular restaraunt the i happen to work in, $2.86 will buy you a 3-way, as well as a large drink.
    Lastly, before preparing to do an outsiders review of our delicious chili, you should have done your research on the chili where you would have learned how to correctly eat and prepare it.
    Skyline Chili is meant to be prepared in 1 of 2 ways. #1, a generous later of spaghetti, topped with meaty & hearty skyline chili, then to be topped by a mound of cheddar cheese, and drizzled with skyline chili original hot sauce. To be paired with oyster crackers- optional. or #2, a steamed hotdug bun, a hotdog with a dash of mustard(optional) Skyline chili, diced onions(optional) and again, topped with a genrous portion of cheddar cheese and drizzled with skyline chili hotsauce. Skyline is not meant to be a chili to be eaten by itself out of a bowl with a spoon.
    To be noted, you are allowed your opinion, but please ensure that your opinion is justified, and that your opinion is justified through correct facts, and that you do your research before dissing an entire restaraunt and community through something you prepared incorrectly out of a can.

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  44. Thank you for your comments, but perhaps you need to re-read what I said. I didn't like that canned chili, whether it was 1.07 or $2.86. Secondly, any criticism of the in house stuff came from Yelp reviews, not me. I stand by my comments; it ain't chili...you may call it chili, but I am well aware of the origins of chili and your Ohio stuff ain't it. Sorry.

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  45. I am from the Midwest. A lot of people in Indianapolis, where I live now, love this stuff. If someone just says the word "Skyline" at my office, people start salivating and sure enough a big crowd of Hoosiers are heading off to get them some Skyline.

    Notice, I never called it chili in that paragraph. I don't know what it is, but it is not chili. It is something that you'd eat if you needed to 'get things moving' after a long ride back from vacation. Or maybe if you haven't had grease in a while, you could go here to fill up.

    I have tried it - twice as my great aunt would say - First and Last time.

    This Hoosier does not get the draw of that gunk.

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  46. I grew up in Cincinnati so I also grew up to disliking the taste of traditional red chunky chili, and it's definetely not something you might like having already tried traditional chili. Saying that, I love the stuff and will continue to buy those 3-ways

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  47. I am a Cincinnati native, now in NYC, and absolutely love Skyline Chili - fresh at the restaurant or frozen. But I came looking for a post to validate my experience with the canned version, which is horrible! It tastes nothing like Skyline and I'm surprised that the company would even permit its distribution. I don't expect you to fly to Cincinnati, but if you ever find yourself near a Krogers or Publix, they sell the frozen version. There are also several restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.

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  48. I heard so much about skyline and when I had it I thought it sucked. You can get cheaper knock off brand chili that tastes the same. It's overpriced and doesn't taste good enough to make it worth it. And I love that someone else is calling out LaRosa's pizza. It's not any better than any cheap frozen pizza. When your food is on par with frozen food, it means it's not good. Midwestern food is generally crappy. I've lived in Indiana my whole life and it sucks.

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  49. I'm from the midwest. Ohio is NOT the midwest. It is a NE state, for sure. I grew up on meaty, spicy chili that leaves out chocolate and cinnamon so do not poop on the Midwest for this recent Skyline experience of yours. As a Kansas girl, hearing of cinnamon as a chili ingredient makes me laugh, then gag, then laugh some more.

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