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Chew on this: Cincinnati's chili culture

Right now, Ohio is at the center of the political universe, and electoral math is on everyone's mind.
Skyline Chili
Skyline Chili

Right now, Ohio is at the center of the political universe, and electoral math is on everyone's mind. But even in an election year, in Cincinnati, chili is always on the back burner. Like "Politics and Eggs" in New Hampshire or fried food at the Iowa State Fair, Cincinnati-style chili has become a delicious, albeit, cliché campaign stop.

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama walks out after stopping for lunch at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, Monday, July 16, 2012. Obama is spending the day campaigning in...

For those who haven't had the pleasure of tasting this regional delicacy, leave your spoon at home. We eat our chili with a fork, piled high on top of spaghetti with shredded cheddar cheese. That's called a three-way. Add cheese and either beans or diced onions and you have four-way. Top it off with cheese, onions and red beans, and you guessed it, a five-way.

The argument over which of the city's chili chains is best will likely rage among Queen City natives until the end of time. But nearly everyone can agree that Cincinnati's chili beats the stuff they serve in in the South (or anywhere else for that matter).

The fight over which state's chili recipe reigns supreme actually boiled over on Capitol Hill in 1974 when Senator John Tower of Texas took to the Senate floor and challenged Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater to a chili cook-off. Ohio Senator Robert Taft got in on the game, claiming the best chili came from Cincinnati. The results of the 1974 National Press Club chili cook-off are immaterial (read: Cincinnati didn't win) - everyone knows who the true champion is.

John McCain
A waitress at Skyline Chili puts a bib on Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., before he eats a bowl of chili during a campaign stop...

Governor Mitt Romney came and went from Cincinnati today without so much as a mention of our town's tasty treat. Vice President Biden hasn't checked in for chili this campaign season either, but President Obama has. The leader of the free world picked up a four-way and a couple of coneys to go when he was in Cincinnati back in July. And, VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, who went to college in Ohio, says his chili choice is a five-way. It's not always pretty - Senator McCain even donned a bib to dig in back in 2008 - but it's always delicious.

So, Governor Romney and Vice President Biden, it's high time you got in on this scrumptious political tradition. Consider this your invitation!