From the World Chili Championship—spoiler: it won—to your pantry.

By Kaitlyn Yarborough
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Texas Chili Crop
Credit: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

The best thing about Southern cooking—the kind that we’d watch go on in our grandmother’s kitchen—is that we’re not ashamed to use a store-bought shortcut to bolster up an entire recipe. Evaporated milk, crumbled Ritz crackers, rotisserie chicken, canned tomatoes, just to name a few. Put simply, the Southern cooks that came before us knew that there was little a box of gelatin and jar of Duke’s mayo couldn’t do. 

If you’ve never heard of Wick Fowler’s Famous 2-Alarm Chili Kit, you probably just weren’t paying enough attention. Because this seasoning blend has been turning out pots of perfect Texas-style chili for decades, whether or not your grandmother chose to break the rules and add beans. It was made to streamline the whole process of measuring out each spice and sampling a million times to make sure the batch has got just enough heat, which is right up a Southern grandmother's alley. The signature box contains seven different packets that work together to completely season, thicken, and spice up your pot of chili. Ah, life made easy.

The humble origin of the old-school spice box goes all the way back to the first-ever World Chili Championship held in Terlingua, Texas, back in 1967, where Wick Fowler won with his simple Texas chili containing only this perfect ratio of spices, meat, canned tomato sauce, and water. Despite the seasoning box being much harder to find outside of Texas now, many Southerners still rely on the basic recipe to whip up the most authentic batch of chili in just a few shakes of a tailfeather. 

While the original recipe (which is on the back of the box) is seriously delicious and works just as well alone in a bowl as on top of a hot dog, we also like to customize it with fun additions like canned crushed tomatoes for extra texture, canned beans (don’t tell Wick) for extra flavor, and all the fixings. Having all the spices on hand in the exact amount just makes the whole process way easier, every single time. Weeknight meal prep, anyone?

Luckily, Wick Fowler’s Famous 2-Alarm Chili Kit can still be found in select grocery stores and on Amazon—so you can try out the World Chili Championship-winning chili kit for yourself at home. 

WATCH: West Texas Chili

Southerners love a big bowl of comfort, whether it’s Texas-style chili or chicken and dumplings. We’ll take both, please.