Meanwhile, the folks at Campbell's seemed to smell the chili sharks circling the oyster crackers, and while they remained uncommitted to really declaring chili a soup or stew, they did offer a surprisingly nuanced response that warmed my heart the same way a bowl of Chunky Italian Wedding does in the dead of winter.
"We've heard a lot of debate around topics like this. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is cereal a soup? It's clear that chili, like these other foods, has a bit of an identity crisis," says Campbell's vice president of marketing Lynne Vandeveer. "To this we say, be who you are and focus on who you want to be. If chili wants to be a soup, be a soup. If cereal wants to be a soup, be a soup. We welcome any food or beverage that wants to be considered a soup with open arms. You do you, chili."
But Bri Toland, Vice President of the International Chili Society -- perhaps the strongest authority on the matter -- threw the final nail in the chili pot. Frankly, we're prone to listen to international societies on matters around which they've organized. "It is the official opinion of International Chili Society that chili is not and should not be considered a soup," Toland says.
"True chili is not too thin nor too thick, making it neither a soup nor a stew," continues Toland. "Chili is most often served in a bowl, although it should not run (as soup would) if served on a plate or atop chili-marriage favorites such as burgers, hot dogs, or omelets. Bowl or plate; spoon or fork -- chili is definitely not a soup."
Case closed. Or is it?
Oh, and for the record, we reached out to the person we swear chili had to be named after, and this was her reply: