As Iowans, we have some delicious foods to be proud of. Taco pizza. Breakfast pizza. The tenderloin sandwich. The loose meat sandwich. Many people who move to the Hawkeye State experience these foods for the first time. But there is a food combination that can prove to be as controversial as pineapple on pizza. Why do we eat cinnamon rolls with our chili?

To fully understand where certain recipes and combinations come from, you need to speak with a food historian. Darcy Maulsby is the author of a book entitled 'A Culinary History of Iowa.' The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that she'll be speaking about Iowa cuisine at the Cedar Rapids Public Library on March 30th. When asked about cinnamon rolls with chili, Maulsby replied, "That's one of those great mysteries. No one knows for sure why it started."

Gourmet chili beans with extra lean beef
raul taborda

The Gazette reports that Maulsby discovered that the combination wasn't unique to Iowa. The combination can be traced to parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, and a few Western states including Wyoming. So how did it start? Maulsby told the Gazette that her theory is that it began in schools during the 1960s. Cooks were working with limited supplies like water, ground beef, and beans.

Maulsby told the Gazette that cooks were doing what they could to make meals nutritious and appealing to kids. They looked at what they had and decided they could make chili, and then bake a cinnamon roll for dessert. Boom. A legendary food combination was born!

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I remember this combination like yesterday from my days at Viola Elementary School. We would have chili and peanut butter cinnamon rolls! Now the combination is served in restaurants around the Midwest. But if you didn't grow up in Iowa, you probably think it looks strange! Don't knock it until you try it!

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