Ideas for Chili Cook-off Themes

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Bowl of chill.
Bowl of chill. (Image: vertmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

You can't take yourself too seriously when you're dressed up in a strange costume and serving chili to strangers. But coming up with an idea for your chili cook-off booth may seem harder than actually cooking the chili. A catchy theme draws attention and visitors to your booth. Additionally, it may help win you the "people's choice" award, if you don't win for your famous chili recipe. Let your imagination loose and consider themes that play off book, movie and song titles. Alternatively, pull an idea from pop culture.

Spice It Up

The ingredients that go into a chili recipe can serve as a starting point for your chili booth themes. Think of hot, spicy themes that could include red chili pepper suits or firehouse themes. Alternatively, dress up as the Spice Girls for an all-woman booth. Some ideas include Spice Up Your Life Chili, Chili Mamas, Chili Papas or 5-Alarm Firehouse Chili.

Great Balls of Fire

Pull theme ideas from your favorite music decade. Play off song titles such as Great Balls of Fire Chili or Great Bowls of Chili, Mack the Pepper, Jailhouse Chili, Hound Dog Chili or even Color Me Chili. Dress up as chili peppers, jailhouse residents in striped suits, hound dogs, or give your booth a theme that represents the decade from which the song came.

Walking Dead Chili

Zombies are always a hit and make an interesting theme idea for your next chili cook-off booth. Outfit your booth to look like a cemetery or morgue and dress up as your favorite zombie or zombie fighter, with themes such as Walking Dead Chili, Chili-land, Night of the Living Chili, Dawn of the Chili, The Chili Hour and Deadman's Chili.

Blazing Saddles

Western themes always work for chili cook-off booths. Decorate your booth up for an old-time hanging with Hangman's Chili, an old-fashioned wagon train or cattle rustler for Wrangler's Chili or Kayson Chili. Or dress the booth as an old-time saloon, and title it Chili Can Can. Men can dress as 1860s bartenders, and the women can come as can-can girls in red and black corsets and petticoats.

Knights of the Chili Pepper

To play off the medieval ages, decorate your booth to resemble a castle and call it Knights of the Chili Pepper. Follow a Scottish theme taken from the "Outlander" books such as Highlander's Chili, Outlander's Chili or even Chili of the Red Dragoon. Pull your theme from your favorite J.R.R. Tolkien movie: Smaug the Dragon Chili, Fellowship of the Chili Pepper, Hobbiton Chili or Return of the Chili.

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