Internet InfoMedia skyline chili quirky culinary tradition from cincinnati causes deep rift between haters addicts

Skyline Chili may be America’s quirkiest culinary idiom.

The signature dish of Cincinnati, Ohio — it’s also the name of the casual-dining chain that made it famous — is nothing more than spaghetti topped with chili and piled high with shredded cheddar cheese.

“It’s weird to a lot of people,” Sherry Tomlinson, whose grandfather and father, Nick and Bill Lambrinides, were two of the co-founders of Skyline Chili, told Fox News Digital in an interview.

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“People either love it or it’s just not their thing,” she said. “But people who love it become addicted to it.”

Skyline Chili boasts an appealing retro diner-counter vibe, the charms of the Skyline brand compounded by its own lingo.

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati tradition. Its signature 3 Way is made from spaghetti topped with house-made chili and a mound of shredded cheddar cheese. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Skyline’s famous spaghetti with “secret-recipe” chili and cheese is simply called 3 Way. 

Add diced onion or beans, and it’s called 4 Way; add both, and it’s known as 5 Way. 

Skyline Chili also offers Coneys. That name is derived from Coney Island, New York, home of the annual 4th of July Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

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The short, stubby hot dogs are “specially made” for Skyline Chili, according to its menus. Coneys are served on a bun with mustard, the house chili and available with cheese or without.

A small 3 Way plus a cheese Coney and soda, eaten in-house with friendly diner counter service, cost just $13.09 with tax during a recent visit to the Ludlow Avenue Skyline Chili in Cincinnati’s Clifton neighborhood.

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is a culinary landmark in Cincinnati, Ohio, founded by Greek immigrants in 1949.  (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

It’s a bona fine bargain in terms of cost per calorie. 

The price point is certainly rare in this day and age when a fast-food meal for one person to go can come in at $24. 

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Restaurant industry experts marvel at Skyline Chili’s operational efficiency. 

Everything on the menu is ready before guests walk in the door and sits in plain view behind the counter as they order. The spaghetti is cooked, the chili stewed, the hot dogs griddled, the cheese shredded. 

It takes just seconds to fill orders for an entire table. 

Nick Lambrinides, an immigrant from Greece, founded Skyline in 1949 with his four sons. 

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili is a beloved culinary institution founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949. Pictured is the Ludlow Avenue location in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Tomlinson, the granddaughter, said she has “no idea where he got the idea” for Skyline Chili, though she did note he worked as a cook on the railroads. 

Its recipe remains a closely guarded secret. 

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“All I can say is that my grandpa loved garlic. It was a flavor that was very interesting to him,” said Tomlinson. 

The main ingredient in Skyline Chili, its diehards argue, is its indefinable deliciousness.

“Skyline Chili is a perfect food and I will tolerate no slander of it.”

“Skyline Chili is a perfect food and I will tolerate no slander of it,” Cincinnati-area native Mat Kinsman wrote in a breathless tribute last year in Food & Wine magazine.. 

He cited clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and “God knows what else” as some of its ingredients. 

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Kinsman also said, “To those of us who grew up in the Greater Cincinnati area, this stuff is mother’s milk … It’s a Cincinnati thing, look it up — and it’s the pride of the Queen City.”

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