The informant is a 20 year old college student from Cincinnati. He has a special attachment to the place like many young students, where he simultaneously hates the place and doesn’t want to go back, but also holds a strong love for it if anyone else dared speak ill of it. He told me about one of his jobs back home as a dishwasher for a restaurant that served Cincinnati chili, and told me what it was. This interview was conducted on a break between classes.
“Ok so um, so yeah, so Cincinnati has their own style of chili and uh, there’s two different leading chili fast food chains, there’s Skyline and there’s Gold Star. And there’s like big rivalries and like people have their loyalties to the different restaurants and like, it’s pretty serious stuff. Not for me, I’m like, I don’t really like Cincinnati chili, I guess that makes me kind of sacrilegious but um, basically what it is is just like, low quality… this is gonna sound like I’m bashing my own city but this is just the reality, it’s just like low quality, watered down like, chili, and what they do is they put cinnamon in it, and that’s just like, the standard ingredient, and depending like, if you go to Gold Star they just have cinnamon but if you go to Skyline they have chocolate. So it’s chocolate, cinnamon and chili, like at the same time. And like some people really like that, but I’m not a fan. I worked for Gold Star, and most people liked Skyline, I’d say like 80% of people at least side with Skyline, so like people would actually hold that against me that I worked there, that was a real thing that people would do. I guess the only other thing I could say is that people who come out of state and try it usually don’t like it, it’s usually something that people who are born in Cincinnati and grow up with it actually enjoy and people who try it for the first time as an adult usually don’t like it. It’s just one of those things.”
It meant less to him at the time as it does now when he looks back on it, he says; the nostalgia clouds the significance a bit. But it’s definitely a rite of passage for a Cincinnati kid to work at one of these restaurants, so it solidifies his identity as a Cincinnati boy and gives him an extra connection to the place.