The Truth About Waffle House's Signature Bert's Chili

Waffle House has been making its signature waffles for customers since the restaurant chain first opened its doors in Avondale Estates, Georgia, in 1955. According to Mental Floss, the brand found success pretty early on in its journey, and, by the early 1960s, it expanded to four locations and has been serving up its popular menu item ever since. In fact, per Insider, the restaurant makes as many as 145 waffles every minute. No kidding! 

Since the eatery is open 24 hours a day, it has to accommodate hungry diners any time of the day and night. So, naturally, the restaurant would have a variety of dishes to curb those cravings, along with a backup plan to cope with unprecedented situations like power outages and storms. Even if there's no electricity to fire up the griddle, customers can still order select items from the reduced menu at Waffle House, including burgers, eggs, and hash browns (via Insider). However, when it comes to some of its most iconic food items, there's a special dish at Waffle House that is absolutely worth raving about. And no, it isn't the celebrated Chocolate Chip Waffle. But, it is equally comforting. 

It was created by someone special

Apparently, Bert's Chili is a crowd-pleaser at Waffle House, and the dish has an even more heartwarming backstory when it comes to its namesake. Per the Bert's Chili menu description on the restaurant's site, the hearty bowl of goodness was created by a staff member who was with the company for 30 years before retiring. And, as you might have already guessed, his name is Bert — Bert Thornton, to be exact. He created the dish back in the 1980s and experimented with different flavors to concoct the perfect pot of deliciousness. The dish is made with chili beans, hamburger, Jimmy Dean sausage, tomato, onions, and a special blend of seasonings. 

Even better, Thornton can still be occasionally spotted at some of the Waffle House chains, eating and interacting with the staff and customers. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thornton was once the company's vice president. When he first created the recipe in Dallas, Texas, he had no idea that it would become so popular. "It turned into kind of a cult following," Thornton said. Although he initially worried his chili might not win over customers, it actually did, resulting in the restaurant's sales increasing by 22%. And in case you were wondering, Bert's Chili remains popular to this day.