A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 21, 2006
“If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans” (1976)

"If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans” is a 1976 song by Ken Finlay, owner of the Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. The song has been sung at many a chili cook-off.


The Official State Food of Texas—Chili
The following song has become the anthem at every Terlingua Chili Cook-Off, where no chili with beans recipes are allowed to compete.

If You Know Beans About Chili,
You Know That Chili Has No Beans
by Ken Finlay, singer, songwriter,
and owner of Cheatham Street Warehouse
(a music hall in San Marcos), written in 1976.

You burn some mesquite
And when the coals get hot
You bunk up some meat
And you throw it on a pot.
While some chile pods and garlic
And comino and stuff
Then you add a little salt
Till there’s just enough
You can throw in some onions
To make it smell good
You can even add tomatoes
If you feel like you should
But if you know beans about chili
You know that chili has no beans

If you know beans about chili
You know it didn’t come from Mexico
Chili was God’s gift to Texas
(Or maybe it came from down below)
And chili doesn’t go with macaroni
And dammed Yankee’s don’t go with chili queens;
And if you know beans about chili
You know that chili has no beans

24 October 1977, Daily Review (Hayward, CA), “Plain ol’ chili wins,” pg. 6:
But none of the recipes called for beans. As the song goes, “If you know beans about chili, you know chili has no beans.”

19 October 1984, Washington Post, “The Chili Cookoff: Everything But Beans” by Jeff Wilson, pg. B10:
“If you know beans about chili, you know there ain’t no beans,” pronounces International Chili Society historian Ormley Gumfudgin.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 21, 2006 • Permalink