Young and Hungry

The Legend of the Texas Chili Parlor

texas chili calendar

Later today, in this week's Young & Hungry column, you can get the backstory on the old Texas Chili Parlor, an mid-20th-century restaurant that used to be located in the 1900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Two former waitresses bought the place in 1944 and, a mere two years later, couldn't stand to work under the same roof.

So Hazel Calloway and Barbara Abbott didn't. They treated the restaurant as a time share in which one owner would run it for a week then pass it back to the other. The practice went on for years. The feud apparently created an equally fervent divide among customers, who tried to figure out who was running the shop without actually stepping inside.

A 1962 Washington Post story explained how customers could easily figure it out:

 A sophisticated Chili Parlor goer will squint through the plate glass window before entering. If he sees three calendars above the cash register — including two designed to appeal particularly to male customers — then he knows it is Hazel who's making the chili.

If only one sedate calendar hangs on the wall then it's obviously Barbara's week.

There are those who won't set foot in the place when the three calendars fly. There are others who pass scornfully by when they don't. 

The calendar above is one of Fred Parker's collectibles from the old Texas Chili Parlor and, later, Hazel's Texas Chili Parlor. The co-founder of Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria, which is an homage to Hazel's, isn't sure if this calendar actually flew at the chili parlor, even though it's stamped with the name "Texas Chili Parlor," along with Calloway's own name below it. Calloway apparently used to give these away to loyal customers.

Wherever it flew, it's clear this is one of the calendars "designed to appeal particularly to male customers." (I'll refrain from any speculation on whether the TCP attracted a gay crowd, closeted or otherwise.) 

When you lift the red plastic coating over the young woman's image, she instantly sheds her clothing. It's a classic "girly" calendar from the '60s. I'll spare you the after shot.

  • http://twitter.com/Katherines15 Antione Sangrey

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