America’s Favorite Canned Chili Got Its Start in Corsicana, Texas
Chili is a big deal in Texas. It can be the heat of summer or those brief cold snaps of winter that a bowl of chili is always welcome. What goes into a chili also matters (I eat at the no beans table.) I prefer to make my own chili (I'm working on my own recipe actually) but if I do need to pick up a canned chili, my preference has always been Wolf Brand Chili. It wasn't until I ran across this article that I found out Wolf Brand Chili has its roots in Corsicana, Texas.
Always Learning Something New About Texas
As a life long Texan and East Texan I always find it amazing that I can find out something new about our state or region from time to time. I ran across an article talking about the oil boom in the Corsicana area in the late 1800's. Its a very fascinating read. About halfway through that article, the focus shifted to a gentlemen who created a chili recipe and began making and selling it in Corsicana.
Neighbor, how long has it been since you had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? Well, that’s too long!
Creating Wolf Brand Chili
Lyman T. Davis came up with his chili recipe in 1895 (American Oil & Gas Historical Society). He made the chili and sold it from a wagon in downtown Corsicana. At the time, it was simply called Lyman's Famous Chili. By 1921, Davis was canning his chili and selling it that way. Also around this time, he decided it was a good time to change the name of his chili. He came up with the name Wolf Brand because of his pet wolf. Davis was producing about 2,000 cans of chili per day by 1923.
In the meantime, oil had been discovered on Lyman Davis' ranch. So in 1924, Davis sold the business to a couple of Corsicana businessmen.
Brand's Life in Corsicana
Wolf Brand Chili was made and canned in Corsicana until 1985 when then owner Quaker Oats decided to shut down the plant. The chili is now made, owned and sold by ConAgra Foods, Inc. The cool thing is, that now 125 plus year old recipe is still used.
I thought this was really cool to find out. What was already my favorite quick chili fix is also a product that was invented just outside of East Texas. And yes, the only way I enjoy it is with no beans as it should be.