The Untold Truth Of Chili's

Chili's Grill & Bar holds a special place in the hearts of many whether for the food, drinks, or pop culture references that have spun from it. What many aren't aware of is that the Southwestern-style restaurant was something of a unicorn when it first opened in 1975. According to The Daily Meal, there was nothing quite like Chili's, and because of that, it grew in popularity with the second location opening up within the year. 

The Foodservice Database Company reports that Chili's was within the top 25 chain restaurants in the United States in 2019, which is no surprise given the love that the franchise carries in the hearts of many. The restaurant has come a long way since its inception and now boasts a varied menu that offers tacos, burgers, fajitas, and those oh-so refreshing margaritas. As of 2013, there were more than 1,600 locations worldwide and can be found in 33 countries and two territories, according to The Motley Fool.

The original menu didn't have ribs

When Founder Larry Lavine opened up the first location in Dallas, Texas, the menu felt like the perfect starting point for what would later become today's menu (via The Daily Meal). Lavine had been inspired by the Terlingua Chili Cookoff, and not only included his very one chili recipe but burgers and tacos as well. 

According to a Thrillist report, the menu offered three kinds of chili, six different kinds of burgers, homemade fries, tacos, frozen margarita, homemade sangria, and an icy cool frosted mug of beer (the listed price for each drink was under $2). Although small, it was a robust and hearty menu that attracted enough attention that Lavine decided to open up a second location. Today's menu offers diners their famous ribs, Southwestern eggrolls, fajitas, soups, salads, seafood, an expanded alcoholic beverage list, and a Guiltless menu for more health-conscious customers (via Chili's).

Chili's has a very musical history

Who doesn't remember the first time they heard the now infamous Chili's jingle? The Daily Meal considers the "Welcome to Chili's" jingle one of the top 15 catchiest jingles of all time – it's up there with Klondike, Kit Kat, and Folgers. The song is the happy brainchild of three men: Guy Bommarito, Tom Faulkner, and Willie McCoy (via The Daily Meal). The song was written by Bommarito, while Faulkner sang the hook ("I want my baby back, baby back). McCoy, who was based in New York, sang the low note of the song ("Barbecue sauce"). 

The jingle, which had been commissioned by Austin-based advertising agency GSD&M, was released in 1986. An updated version was released in 1996. In 2002, Chili's brought in some extra star power when they created and released three commercials with pop sensation 'NSync. They even sponsored what ended up being the group's last concert together, their Celebrity tour, according to Thrillist.

They have a broken relationship with Steve Carell

Comedic actor Steve Carell has been a long time fan, or ChiliHead, of the restaurant chain, according to Brinker International (the parent company). That all changed in 2010 when Carell, along with the eternally youthful comedic actor Paul Rudd, filmed a parody skit for the ESPY awards spoofing LeBron James' ESPN press conference when James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. 

In the skit, aptly named "The Decision," Carell takes on what had been the role of James and Rudd plays a reporter trying to get the hot scoop. Carell tells Rudd that after a long and tough decision process, he will be "taking his appetite to the Outback Steakhouse" instead of his beloved Chili's. He cites that he and Chili's had a good run and that in a perfect world, he would continue eating there. When Chili's caught wind of Carell's proclamation, they took a page out of Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert and wrote a "scathing" (and clearly not serious) letter addressing Carell. They revealed how "hurt" they were and how they will now work to make their entrees "bolder and tastier than that of the self-titled 'steakhouse king'."