Chili size

Oh yeah… we have Chili Burgers here, and have for as long as I can remember. Somehow I didn’t make the connection that a Chili Size was the same thing.

Hm. I would have guessed “chili size” was another name for “chili grind” – the extra-course grind you want for chili meat, unless you’re using quarter-inch cubes, or making Cincinnati chili (which calls for a fine hamburger grind).

Having read this read I’m still not sure what a chili size is. Is it a a meal? A measurement? A joke? Could you back up and unpack please for this sleep deprived Brit?

I got confused too… the first quote says there were two size ladles… one for burgers and one for “regular” chili. That is why I assumed that Chili Size would be something other than a Hamburger with Chili as a topping.

I’ll admit there were a couple of other threads linked that I didn’t follow that may have made it more clear.

My understanding is that it is basically a Hamburger (sandwich) with Chili (and likely cheese and onion) used as a condiment. Why it is called a Chili Size is only known to those wacky Californians.

I just did a quick Google search and I think I may still be wrong on what the heck this thing is. The images linked look like it isn’t a burger you can pick up and eat like a sandwich but rather a sandwich put on a plate and then you dump a bowl of Chili over it and would have to eat it with a knife and fork.

So is it that a “Hamburger Size” is the amount of Chili you could eat as a sandwich… what us normal people call a Chili Burger, and a “Chili Size” is a whole bunch more Chili that you can’t pick up and eat in your hands?

If the latter then it never made it to the midwest (sometimes that may be a good thing):slight_smile:

There’s probably a bit of difference between what started out in Los Angeles in the 1920’s as “size” and what exists the last 20-40 years.

The original concept, as best I can see from ads, articles and commentary from the period would indicate a hamburger patty on a plate(or in a bowl) covered with chili(with or without beans) and then covered with onions, cheese being added sometimes. This evolved into more of a chili burger sandwich around the middle of the 20th century. But plenty of places were still serving it without the bun.

If I’m getting this wrong, please advise.

Johnny L.A., when you lived in San Diego, did you ever have a chili size at Oscars?

That’s basically it, sam. A chili size is served open-faced. No way you could ever eat this thing without a knife and fork. A chili-burger is a whole different creature.

See what I get for sleeping? Beaten!

No, I’ve never been to Oscar’s. We didn’t eat out much when I was a kid. Just off the top of my head I remember we frequented Straw Hat Pizza, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Organ Power Pizza, Casa Miguel (no ‘de’, at Montgomery Field), Ricky’s (on Balboa, I think; great pancakes), International House of Pancakes, and Picnic’n’Chicken. But mostly my mom cooked. Chili sizes came from Denny’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Bun Boy (in Barstow), and various one-off diners.

I’ve also had it served with a bun half on the bottom, then the patty, then the chili and fixin’s. It’s basically beef chili with more beef underneath.

I’ve always had it with a toasted bun. The burger sits on the bottom one, and the top is cut in half and put on the sides. Chili is poured over everything, and it’s garnished with shredded cheese and chopped onions.

Alas! I’ve no ground beef, chili, or buns in the house! :frowning:

My dad, who was born in the 1920s, always called them that.

To be honest, I wouldn’t now what else to call them because I never see them.

I don’t like them, but I love chili dogs.

That’s just weird.

Chili size is definitely on the menu in Heaven. It’s also something you can throw together fast with basic ingredients. It may not win any culinary awards, but a frozen hamburger patty, canned chili, shredded cheese, enough onion to choke a horse, all cooked up and served atop a toasted hamburger bun is classic Bachelor Food.

I went to the store for some broccoli, and came back with ground beef and canned chili too. I should go to the corner market and get some buns too.

Never heard of it, and voted accordingly.

Sounds good, though. Damn good.

And I’m a vegetarian.

I don’t think a chili size made with a Boca Burger and vegetarian chili would work at all.

And I like Boca Burgers.

The “Chili Size” of today is not the same thing it was when the term was coined back in the 1920s, at Ptomaine Tommy’s.

Fred Beck’s story, quoted at the top of this thread, is correct. If you re-read it, you’ll see that Ptomaine Tommy’s was a chili parlor. They made some of the best chili around. People would come in for a bowlful. Now, Tommy also made probably the very first “chili burger,” too.

The signs he put up (“CHILI SIZE” and “HAMBURGER SIZE”) referred to the two sizes of ladles he used.

So, the large ladel (CHILI SIZE) was for a bowl of chili. The small ladle (HAMBURGER SIZE) was for topping off the chili burger.

The term “chili size” came to mean how much chili went into a bowl. In fact, the term “Hamburger size” was synonymous with what we now know as a chili burger.

However, since the chili burgers were so popular and the strange name, “chili size,” seemed to have stuck, eventually other restaurants started making chili burgers, usually open-faced, and calling the item a “chili size.”

But, originally, it was the larger of the two sizes (or amounts) of chili that you got – and it was in a bowl. With onions and cheese, if you liked.

How do you personally have knowledge of this?

How do you personally know this?

As long as this thread has resurfaced, I’ll just mention that Denny’s has brought back the patty melt.

Yay! One down and one to go!