Parse the Powder

One letter can mean a world of difference. We examine the traits that make "chile" powder and "chili" powder.

Gebhardt's Chili Powder

Becky Luigart-Stayner

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  • Springfield Chili

    Hot Competition

    Our reporter visits an annual Atlanta chili contest where competitors share their secrets for award-winning chili.


Unlike pure "chile" powder―ground dried chile peppers―"chili" powder typically contains a blend of seasonings such as cumin, paprika, garlic, and salt along with ground chiles. Many chili competition winners swear by Gebhardt Chili Powder, a brand that has been in production for more than a century. In 1892, German immigrant and Texas saloon owner William Gebhardt figured out a way to preserve his fall chile harvest by running them through a meat grinder, then drying and pulverizing them. He was later inspired to add cumin, oregano, and black pepper to the mix (available at

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