Chili and History - A Perfect Pair

10/16/2018 - Denise Bernacki

Foodie, History
Kenosha History Center Chili Cook Off

One of my favorite pieces of personal history is coming home from school, walking through the front door and being greeted by the smell of chili cooking on the stove.  While I’m partial to my mom’s chili, I decided to venture out and experience Kenosha’s chili scene for the first time.  But before I tell you about my chili trip, did you know that you can try 10+ different versions of chili under one roof, with the bonus of live music at an upcoming event?  It’s true! 

Don’t miss the 14th Annual Chili Cook-Off benefiting the Kenosha History Center! This spicy event will be held Saturday, October 20 from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Kenosha UAW Local 72. Eat chili made by area restaurants including the famous Franks Diner, Grab’s Burger Bar, Kaiser’s Pizza & Pub Kenosha, Mason’s Eatery & Pub, tg’s Restaurant & Pub, Twisted Cuisine, and more! Then vote for your favorite! Get all the details of the event here.

The event is normally held at the Kenosha History Center. However, due to building upgrades taking place at the museum this fall, the event is at the different location. Be sure to plan a visit to the Kenosha History Center, though! I had never been to the Kenosha History Center before so I met up with Chris Allen, the Center’s Executive Director, for a tour.  The Center was founded in1878 and is now located on Simmons Island in Downtown Kenosha.  

The Kenosha History Center does not charge admission – one of the many FREE things to enjoy in our community. However, they do appreciate donations to help support their efforts. Artifacts that are housed at the Kenosha History Center date back to1835. Exhibits do periodically rotate so there is always something new to see.  Be sure to visit the Yesteryear Gallery and Lyman Gallery to see what Kenosha was like through 1900.  Peek through the windows of the General Store, Barbershop, One Room School, a Photography studio and Millinery shop - tons of old Kenosha to view.  The Rambler Legacy Gallery pays tribute to Kenosha’s auto-making history, which brings you through the 20th Century - check out the vehicle display which tells a story all its own.  The Kenosha History Center is the most exciting place I’ve been to in Kenosha so far - which may sound like an odd thing to say about a museum.  The highlights I took from my tour were that Simmons Beautyrest mattresses originated here - you can even see one the original mattress frames!  Not only will you learn about the early beginnings of car manufacturing, but you will see a 1902-03 Rambler Runabout and a 1917 Jeffery Six in person!  You won't want to miss the seasonal Southport Light Station Museum which is part of the History Center Campus, located just north of the History Center, and home to the Southport Lighthouse - and yes, you can climb it!

Oh and I can’t forget to tell you about my chili trip!  The Kenosha chili train has a lot of stops so I only had time to stop at a few.  

  • My first stop was to Kaiser’s Pizza & Pub - priced at about $5.00, this one has a kick!  Why?  because there’s jalapeños in it!  Very colorful and served with oyster crackers on the side, I normally don’t like anything spicy but I couldn’t get enough it.
  • My second stop was Choo Choo Charlie’s with my little guy.  Priced at about $3.00 for a small and about $5.00 for a large, it’s meaty and tomato-y, and has a kick, too!  Served with onions and cheese melted on top, I actually needed a refill on my lemonade to cool my mouth down!  Yum!
  • My final stop was the Waterfront Warehouse - priced at about $4.00, it’s tomato-y and safe for those who don’t want a spicy chili.  It comes with saltine crackers, onions and sour cream, which really completes the dish!

Other great stops in the Kenosha Area for chili include Boat House Pub & Eatery, Brat Stop, Bristol 45 Diner, Captain Mike’s Beer & Burger Bar, Century Pub & Eatery, Culver’s of Pleasant Prairie, Mason’s Eatery & Pub, tg’s Restaurant & Pub, The Coffee Pot, The Spot Drive-In and Uncle Mike’s Highway Pub – these all offer chili regularly on their menus.  

So, there you have it. A great event, with great chili, benefiting a great museum. Which chili will be your favorite?

Community Blog Team 2018

Denise Bernacki

Community Blogger

Brand new Kenosha resident – just relocated here Fall 2017 from NW Indiana. Touring Kenosha for the first time along with my husband and 3-year-old son.