The Best Chili in All 50 States

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Nothing takes the sting out of a cold, dreary day quite like a warm bowl of chili. No matter how you like it—extra spicy, vegetarian, sans beans, or hidden by a topcoat of cheese and sour cream—the perfect bowl of chili is out there waiting to be discovered. These are some of the best options in all 50 states.

1. ALABAMA // CHRIS' HOT DOGS

Chris' Hot Dogs
Jimmy Emerson DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Montgomery, Alabama

For over a century, Chris’ Hot Dogs has enticed presidents, movie stars, and regular folk with its famous franks and legendary chili sauce. Founded by Chris Katechis, a Greek immigrant, the restaurant uses a secret family recipe to make 10 gallons of chili every day. Not only can you cover your hot dog or hamburger in it or order it by the bowl, you could also take home a pint ($5), quart ($9.50), or gallon ($35) to satisfy any off-hour cravings.

2. ALASKA // BREAD AND BREW

chili at Bread and Brew
Courtesy of Bread and Brew

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

This hip sandwich shop pours their hearty Alaskan Reindeer Chili into a bread bowl. You'll find reindeer sausage, kidney beans, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in this savory blend.

3. ARIZONA // CRACKERS AND CO. CAFE

Cup of chili
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Location: Tempe and Mesa, Arizona

Head to Crackers & Co. Cafe for lunch, where everything on the menu is made from scratch. The soup selection is impressive, and the cup of chili is flavorful and a delightful half of a soup-and-sandwich order.

4. ARKANSAS // IZZY'S RESTAURANT

bowl of chili
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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

This family owned Little Rock restaurant creates all its recipes, grows its own herbs, and even has a honey bee and Monarch butterfly garden. Their fantastic chili is made with fresh certified Angus beef, pinto beans, and tomatoes, and can be ordered on its own or as a topping for Izzy's tamale platters.

5. CALIFORNIA // MARTY'S HAMBURGER STAND

Chili burger
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Location: Los Angeles, California

Near Rancho Park in West Los Angeles, Marty's Hamburger Stand is a tiny, cash-only spot that has served Vienna beef burgers and hot dogs since 1959. The chili at Marty's has a thick, spreadable consistency that works perfectly atop chili cheese fries and burgers.

6. COLORADO // WEST END TAP HOUSE

Bowl of chili
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Location: Denver, Colorado

The West End Tap House makes a fine Wild Boar Sloppy Joe and raved-about "Lambsicle" appetizers, but for a hearty bowl of chili on a chilly day, you can't beat their elk chili, made with ground elk, black beans, and tomatoes and topped with plenty of cheese and onions .

7. CONNECTICUT // VANILLA BEAN CAFE

chili at Vanilla Bean Cafe
Courtesy of Chip Riegel and Vanilla Bean Cafe

Location: Pomfret, Connecticut

Located in a restored barn dating back to the early 1800s, Vanilla Bean Cafe is a cute place with some killer chili. Their award-winning, traditional beef chili contains lean ground beef and chorizo, and it's topped with grated cheddar cheese, scallions, and tortilla chips. And if you can't make it to Connecticut, the full 20-ingredient recipe is available here [PDF] if you want to make your own.

8. DELAWARE // THE DOG HOUSE

Hot dog with chili
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Location: New Castle, Delaware

As you might be able to ascertain from its name, The Dog House isn't fancy. But the old-fashioned hot dog dive has an under-$5 foot-long chili cheese dog that has had generations of fans coming back for more.

9. FLORIDA // THE STONE SOUP COMPANY

Ybor Chili at The Stone Soup Company
Courtesy of The Stone Soup Company

Location: Tampa, Florida

This gourmet soup and sandwich shop in the Ybor City Historic District serves healthy, amazing food. Play some dominoes or checkers as you wait for your Ybor Chili. Available in a cup, bowl, or quart, this meaty chili contains ground beef, Italian sausage, and pulled Cuban mojo pork.

10. GEORGIA // NU-WAY WEINERS

Nu-Way Weiner Stand
Tom Spinker, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Georgia

With locations in Macon, Warner Robins, and Fort Valley, you're never too far from a Nu-Way Weiners. Since it first opened in 1916 (making it the second-oldest hot doggery in the U.S., after Nathan's Famous in New York), Nu-Way has made a comforting bowl of chili, and it now serves a mouthwatering chili-cheese coleslaw hot dog.

11. HAWAII // ZIPPY'S KAPAHULU

Zippy's Kapahulu
Sun Brockie, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Hawaii

This famous diner with two dozen locations throughout Hawaii sells insane amounts of its fantastic signature product, Original Recipe Chili. Get the chili with chicken or a frank, over rice, atop cheese fries, or as a burrito—the choice is yours!

12. IDAHO // DAWG ON GRILL

Hot dogs with chili on a grill
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Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho

Dawg On Grill is a hot dog establishment where you'll find plenty of "dawgs"—corn dogs, brats, sausages, and "puppy dawgs" for the kids. The chili dog with grilled onions, peppers, and nacho cheese will satisfy your cravings, but if a simple chili topping isn't enough, you can get a bowl for just $3.50.

13. ILLINOIS // BISHOP'S FAMOUS CHILI

Pot of chili.
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Location: Westmont, Illinois

The cooks at Bishop's Famous Chili (currently the fourth generation of Bishops making the recipe "Grandma Bishop" used to open the doors in 1925) spend 24 hours making each batch of chili, and you can taste that time and effort with every flavorful bite. If you're feeling ravenous, get your chili with a tamale and a side of cornbread.

14. INDIANA // LOUGHMILLER'S PUB & EATERY

chili at Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery
Courtesy of Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

This fun pub hosts live music and celebrates Colts home games with drink specials and tailgates. The chili is full of ground beef and kidney beans, and pairs well with a beer and Pepper Jack Stuffed Pretzels.

15. IOWA // QUINTON'S BAR AND DELI

Bread bowl of chili.
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Location: Multiple locations, Iowa

Residents of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Coralville know that Quinton's Bar and Deli makes a mean homemade chili. The bread bowl chili is meaty and topped with diced red onions and shredded cheddar.

16. KANSAS // WOODYARD BAR-B-QUE

Burnt ends chili
Nubby Tongue, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Kansas City, Kansas

Three words: burnt end chili. The three-bean chili at this beloved barbecue restaurant is a stew of black, red, and kidney beans, plus a generous amount of paprika and cayenne. It's topped with burnt ends, those gloriously fatty, flavorful pieces of brisket, which really add a punch to the classic dish.

17. KENTUCKY // THE CAFE

Bowl of chili with beer.
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Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Don't let this cafe's simple name fool you: The food is complex, thoughtful, and memorable. Situated in a former warehouse in Paristown Pointe, The Cafe serves a rustic West Yellowstone Montana Chili with diced green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and banana peppers.

18. LOUISIANA // DOE'S EAT PLACE

chili at Doe’s Eat Place
Courtesy of Doe’s Eat Place

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Carnivores will love Doe's Eat Place, which has been cooking sensational steaks and tamales since 1941. Go for dinner and get a half-dozen all-beef tamales, which come with a cup of Doe's delightful homemade chili.

19. MAINE // GEAGHAN'S PUB

Nacho salad with chili
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Location: Bangor, Maine

Craft beer, live Celtic music, and hearty chili can all be found at Geaghan's Pub. The bowl of beef chili is served with tortilla chips—perfect for dipping—and they also top their nacho salad with it, in case you'd like some greens as well.

20. MARYLAND // ONE-EYED MIKE'S

Chili in white bowl
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Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Take one step into this gastropub in Fell's Point, and you'll see thousands of Grand Marnier bottles, each belonging to one member of the pub's Grand Marnier club. The fantastic chili here, though, will make you forget all about your boozy surroundings. It's served with tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // GRENDEL'S DEN

chili at Grendel's Den
Courtesy of Grendel's Den

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Customers rave about the chili at Grendel's Den, a popular restaurant near Harvard Square. The Five Bean chili is unique and spectacular, thanks to the cilantro pesto and cornbread that accompany it.

22. MICHIGAN // CHELI'S CHILI BAR

Outside of Cheli's Chili Bar.

Location: Detroit, Michigan

This sports bar is owned by Chris Chelios, a former ice hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings. The three-time Stanley Cup champ clearly knows his way around the ice and a bowl of chili. Order the original, chicken, or vegetarian chili, and spice it to your liking with additional jalapeños.

23. MINNESOTA // THE LOON CAFE

Window of The Loon Cafe.
Zara Gonzalez Hoang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Loon Cafe is seriously crazy about chili. A few of the many options include Pinto's Diablo Chili (ground beef, vegetables, and kidney beans) and Turkey White Bean (lean ground turkey breast and garlic tomato sauce). Various chilis are served with Texas toast, flour tortillas, or jalapeño cornbread.

24. MISSISSIPPI // MUGSHOTS GRILL AND BAR

Chili on nachos.
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Location: Multiple locations, Mississippi

At Mugshots Grill and Bar, the people are friendly, the flavors are sufficiently Southern, and the chili is criminally good. The Walker's Texas Ranger chili is full of beef, bell peppers, onions, and diced tomatoes. For a bit more crunch, try Spencer's Nachos, which are piled high with beef chili and cheese.

25. MISSOURI // BLUEBERRY HILL

Neon sign at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis.
Timothy K. Hamilton, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

This restaurant and music venue in the Delmar Loop has given locals the perfect place to chow down since 1972. Its award-winning spicy chili, garnished simply with cheddar cheese, isn't the restaurant’s only draw. If you recognize the name, it's likely in connection with rock pioneer Chuck Berry, who kept a standing monthly set at the venue for more than 17 years, up until his death at age 90. Don't forget to check out the impressive collection of pop culture memorabilia on display before you leave.

26. MONTANA // CASEY'S WHITEFISH

chili at Casey’s Whitefish
Courtesy of Casey’s Whitefish

Location: Whitefish, Montana

Located just outside Glacier National Park, Casey's Whitefish is a pub and grill that serves an extraordinary elk chili made with pinto and black beans, green onions, and mild cheddar and jack cheese. When the weather’s warm, head upstairs to enjoy the view at the area’s only rooftop bar. After you enjoy your chili, you can try your luck at the casino games on the restaurant’s first floor.

27. NEBRASKA // HI-WAY DINER

The Hi-Way Diner in Nebraska
Zach Inglis, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

This diner on the south side of Nebraska's scenic Highway 2 is open 24 hours a day, keeping customers happy day or night with plenty of comfort food. For the perfect road-trip snack, get the homemade chili on its own, or try the chili omelet, served with onion and cheddar.

28. NEVADA // BEEFY'S

chili at Beefy’s
Courtesy of Beefy’s

Location: Reno, Nevada

All the beef at Beefy's comes from Reno's own Ponderosa Meat & Provision Co., and you can taste the quality with every bite of chili con carne. Made fresh each day, the chili is topped with parsley and cheddar cheese. You can order it on its own or on top of a hot dog, burger, omelet, or fries.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // RED ARROW DINER

Two women at the Red Arrow Diner.
Roger C. Goun, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, New Hampshire

When you eat at Red Arrow Diner, you're dining at a place with history. The first location opened in Manchester in 1922, and today, its chili dishes are famous across New England. We recommend the chili hash browns and the Five Alarm chili.

30. NEW JERSEY // OCEAN CAFE

Chicken chili
iStock

Location: Multiple locations, New Jersey

With four locations across Central New Jersey, Ocean Cafe is a casual restaurant chain that focuses on healthy offerings like salads, wraps, and smoothies. The chicken chili is a highlight of the menu thanks to its sweet-and-spicy flavor and generous portions of meat.

31. NEW MEXICO // FRONTIER RESTAURANT

bowl of green chili stew

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Finding the best bowl of chili can be challenging in a state known for its peppers, but in New Mexico, look no farther than Frontier Restaurant, an Albuquerque staple just off the University of New Mexico campus. Its green chile stew is so beloved that many fans try to make it at home, but nothing compares to the real deal. You can order it by the bowl or on top of your burrito or enchilada. The stew is also on the menu at Frontier’s sister restaurant, Golden Pride, which has four locations across Albuquerque.

32. NEW YORK // CHAMPS DINER

Bowl of vegetarian chili.
iStock

Location: Brooklyn, New York

You'll find stellar comfort food like chili cheese fries and milkshakes at this Williamsburg diner, with a twist: Everything on the menu happens to be vegan. Take a break from meaty chilis and get a bowl of the three-bean version at Champs. We recommend washing it down with a cookie dough shake.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // ROSETTA'S KITCHEN

Hearty Chili at Rosetta's Kitchen
Courtesy of Rosetta's Kitchen

Location: Asheville, North Carolina

The best chili in North Carolina also happens to be meatless. This vegetarian soul food restaurant crafts thoughtful, creative dishes using local produce and top-notch ingredients. Their chili is a spicy vegan option that will warm you up in no time. If you don't want it in a bowl, the chili cheese fries are hand-cut and smothered in vegan queso.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // DOGMAHAL DOGHAUS

Chili dog with cheese.
iStock

Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

DogMahal DogHaus is a hot dog and sausage joint with a spunky vibe. Though it specializes in franks, it also does a mean chili. The Under Dog is a quarter-pound beef frank brimming with hot chili, onions, and cheese. If you're aren't feeling the dog, you can get the chili on its own, too.

35. OHIO // CAMP WASHINGTON CHILI

Chili on spaghetti
iStock

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

This chili parlor in Camp Washington might be the ultimate destination for chili lovers. The restaurant's renown chili is available by itself, over spaghetti (a local delicacy), on a burger or fries, or topped with beans or cheese. With so many options, you'll definitely need to make multiple trips back.

36. OKLAHOMA // IKE'S CHILI

Chili with mac and cheese
iStock

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Ike Johnson and his nephew, Ivan, opened this chili establishment back in 1908. Over a century later, their famous recipe still delights customers (and Martha Stewart). You can order the original beef chili or opt to get it with beans, spaghetti, or mac and cheese.

37. OREGON // BALDY'S BARBEQUE

Plate of barbecue, chili, and fries.
Bill Roehl, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Redmond and Bend, Oregon

Central Oregon's Baldy's Barbecue is the place to get some truly magnificent meat. Voted one of the best barbecue joints in the area, this family-owned restaurant serves its spicy smokehouse chili with cheese, diced onions, sour cream, and a side of cornbread.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // DOUBLE WIDE GRILL

Double Wide Grill in Pittsburgh
Brett VA, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Pennsylvania

The Double Wide Grill knows how to entertain vegans and meat lovers alike. Nosh on the spicy Jailhouse Beef Chili (no beans, for you chili con carne purists) or the equally spicy grilled vegetable chili, which contains beans, tomatoes, and corn. Its three locations in the Pittsburgh area boast bar trivia, karaoke, and live entertainment, and its South Side restaurant has been voted one of the best outdoor dining options in the area—it even has a special dog patio featuring a separate menu just for Fido. (Sorry, that one doesn't feature chili.)

39. RHODE ISLAND // BEN'S CHILI DOGS

Chili dog on bun
iStock

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

The state might be known for its clam chowder, but Ben's Chili Dogs has been serving up the red-meat favorite since 1969 (though yes, they also serve clam rolls and chowder). To get a true Rhode Island version of the classic chili dog, sprinkle some celery salt on top.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // PAWLEYS FRONT PORCH

Chili on fries.
iStock

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Relaxing on a porch is a distinctively Southern experience, and Pawleys Front Porch injects that kind of laid-back hospitality into its food. Located in Five Points, this restaurant is known for its patio, food truck, and thick burgers. The chili, which is divine, is available in a cup or bowl, or atop hand-cut fries.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // PHILLIPS AVENUE DINER

chili from Phillips Avenue Diner
Courtesy of Phillips Avenue Diner

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Phillips Avenue Diner boasts a jukebox, milkshakes, and some of the best diner chili anywhere. Enjoy the retro vibe as you dig in to a big bowl of homemade ground beef and beans, either as-is or loaded with tasty toppings.

42. TENNESSEE // ELWOOD'S SHACK

Outside of Elwood's Shack in Memphis.
Memphis CVB, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Elwood's Shack is a down-home establishment that serves barbecue, fish tacos, and burgers. Their outstanding chili is made with Texas beef brisket, Guinness Stout, and curry powder.

43. TEXAS // THE SHADY GROVE

The Shady Grove's Roasted Vegetable Chili
Courtesy of The Shady Grove

Location: Austin, Texas

Located near Barton Creek and the Colorado River, The Shady Grove is a casual restaurant with a huge patio and plenty of shade from a nearby grove of pecan trees. The roasted vegetable chili contains diced onions, jalapeños, and jack and cheddar cheese.

44. UTAH // THE MOAB BREWERY

chili at The Moab Brewery
Courtesy of The Moab Brewery

Location: Moab, Utah

As Moab’s only microbrewery, The Moab Brewery has a natural advantage when it comes to blowing people's minds and tastebuds. Sip on their popular Dead Horse Ale as you wait for a cup of the chunky vegetarian chili, which is chock-full of healthy vegetables.

45. VERMONT // LANGDON STREET TAVERN

bowl of chili on a blue table
iStock

Location: Montpelier, Vermont

This Irish watering hole has a pool table, Vermont-brewed beers on tap, and some of the best homemade chili in the state. The southwest-style chili is topped with cheddar-jack cheese and served with a hunk of garlic bread.

46. VIRGINIA // STATION 2

Station 2's Firehouse Chili
Courtesy of Station 2

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Located in a former fire house called Engine Company 2, Station 2 cooks gourmet burgers made from natural, Virginia-grown beef. Get a side of firehouse chili with your burger, or go all in with the chili cheeseburger or "American nachos" (a.k.a. potato chips under a blanket of chili and cheese).

47. WASHINGTON // HOLE IN THE WALL BARBECUE

Chuck’s Railroad Chili at Hole in the Wall Barbecue
Courtesy of Hole in the Wall Barbecue

Location: Seattle, Washington

Barbecue and chili often go hand in hand, but this barbecue spot has perfected the art of tangy sauce, smoky meats, and spectacular chili. Chuck's Railroad Chili is a thick, spicy red stew bursting with black beans and ground beef.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // CUSTARD STAND

chili at Custard Stand
Courtesy of Custard Stand

Location: Multiple locations

Custard Stand started out in 1991 as a take-out dairy bar, but customers loved their chili so much that the company shifted focus. The founders appeared on Shark Tank in 2016, and today, you can enjoy their beefy hot dog chili or chili soup with beef and beans.

49. WISCONSIN // RED ROCK SALOON

chili with Fritos
iStock

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mouthwatering barbecue, live rock and country music, and a mechanical bull make Red Rock Saloon a wild place to hang out. Try their famous Red Rock Chili, or get the brisket chili atop the Frito Pie Burger.

50. WYOMING // CHUGWATER SODA FOUNTAIN

Outside of Chugwater Diner

Location: Chugwater, Wyoming

This cute soda fountain is Wyoming's oldest operating soda fountain, and you can feel the history oozing from the walls. Choose between their famous Chugwater Chili or green chili, both of which pair well with a hand-dipped ice cream shake.

See Which Ingredients Cooks From Around the World Love Most

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iStock

Food is incredibly regionally specific, and cuisines have been refined over millennia based on what ingredients have been available and what local cooks have come up with. Even though global trade has made the same spices and other flavor staples available virtually anywhere in the world, Mexican food still tastes radically different from Chinese food, and Italian food from Irish food. We know this intuitively—few of us pick up a bottle of soy sauce thinking we’ll use it in a traditional Italian pasta dish—but it’s still fascinating to see a breakdown of just which ingredients certain cuisines have cornered the market on, as you can in these charts.

Nathan Yau of FlowingData visualized the most-used ingredients in 20 different cuisines, using data on ingredients from Yummly to figure out what distinct flavors and ingredients country-specific cuisines gravitate towards.

Across the world, salt is king. It’s the most-used ingredient in 75 percent of the cuisines Yau looked at, and the only cuisine in which it doesn’t appear in the top five most-used ingredients is Korean food—but, like in other Asian cuisines, Korean recipes use soy sauce more than any other ingredient, and that in itself is very salty.

Because so many cuisines rely heavily on the same ingredients, like soy sauce and salt, Yau also calculated the ingredients most specific to each cuisine: the ones disproportionately used in one country’s traditional cuisine. This is where you start to get a picture of the kind of ingredients we associate heavily with particular regionally specific dishes. Mexican food relies on tortillas; Greek food, feta cheese; Korean, kimchi; Thai, lemongrass; Russian, beets; and Cajun, andouille sausage. Some ingredients may come as a bit of a surprise, though. Southern cooking in the U.S. uses vanilla extract more than other cuisines do, and the French love shallots. Cajun cooks are big fans of celery ribs, and somehow, though numerous cuisines use onions heavily, Brazilian cooks use them slightly more than anyone else.

The data relies on Yummly recipes, so the results are limited to what the recipe recommendation site has available. It's possible that home cooks working in each cuisine do something slightly different that might move the data in another direction. But, since Yummly currently has more than 2 million recipes available, it seems like a relatively large snapshot of cooking options.

Explore the interactive graphic and learn more at FlowingData.

15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of The Great British Baking Show

Netflix
Netflix

by Sarah Dobbs

If you’re an American fan of The Great British Bake Off you probably know it better as The Great British Baking Show (though its most devoted fans simply call it GBBO, which saves a lot of time). While its ninth season just kicked off on England’s Channel 4, American audiences are only now just getting caught up on season eight via Netflix. And with new hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig taking over for Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, plus Prue Leith taking over for Mary Berry as host, the latest incarnation of the show looks a lot different.

A bona fide global sensation, the baking competition has the power to cause otherwise rational human beings to immediately run to their nearest supermarket in search of obscure ingredients like psyllium or Amarula cream liqueur. It’s a charming, retro, warming hug of a TV show. But how much do you know about what goes on behind the scenes? Without destroying any of your illusions, here are some secrets about how the producers whip up one of the world's most beloved cooking shows.

1. THE REASON WHY IT HAS TWO DIFFERENT NAMES IS SIMPLE.

A scene from The Great British Bake Off
Netflix

If you’ve ever wondered why the series is called The Great British Bake Off in England and The Great British Baking Show in America, the answer is simple: Pillsbury. The Pillsbury Bake Off, which kicked off in 1949, is probably America’s most famous baking contest. And the company didn’t want there to be any confusion among viewers, hence The Great British Baking Show.

2. THE OVENS ALL HAVE TO BE TESTED EVERY DAY.

It’s difficult enough to make a cake that Paul Hollywood won’t declare either under- or over-baked without having to worry about whether your oven is working properly. So for every day of filming, every oven has to be tested. And because this is a baking show, they’re tested with cakes. Yes, every day every oven has a Victoria sponge cake cooked in it, to make sure everything’s working exactly as it should be.

3. EVERY TIME SOMEONE OPENS AN OVEN DOOR, THERE'S A CAMERA WATCHING THEM.

To make sure they catch all the drama, GBBO producers insist that every time a bake is put into or taken out of an oven, the moment must be caught on camera. So whenever a baker wants to put their goodies into an oven, or check if they’re ready to come out, they need to grab someone to make sure the moment gets captured on film. (Which must be a hassle for the first couple of weeks, when there are more than 10 bakers all trying their best to produce a perfect bake at once.)

4. THE CONTESTANTS HAVE TO WEAR THE SAME CLOTHES ALL WEEKEND.

It’s a minor thing, but have you ever noticed that the bakers wear the same clothes for an entire episode, even though it’s shot over two days? For continuity purposes, the contestants are asked to wear the same outfits for the entire weekend. If you’re the kind of baker who ends up with flour all over your shirt whenever you bake up a loaf of bread, the second day of filming could be a bit of a nightmare.

"Luckily they change the aprons so we don't look like a Jackson Pollock painting by the end of it," 2013 champion Frances Quinn told Cosmopolitan. "I think layers [is the answer], but even then you still have to wear what you had on, on top. Difficult."

5. THE CONTESTANTS DON’T HAVE A LOT OF DOWNTIME.

Having any time to spare is not something that season seven contestant Jane Beedle remembers happening regularly for the contestants. "Maybe once or twice, and when they did we would just sit and have a cup of tea and chat with the people around us,” she told the Mirror. "They don't like it if you have nothing to do, so they try and make the challenges as difficult as possible to keep you busy."

6. THE TEMPERATURE IN THE TENT CAN MAKE OR BREAK A BAKE.

Sue Perkins, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, and Frances Quinn in 'The Great British Bake Off'
BBC

Forget setting the oven to the correct temperature—the temperature inside the tent is just as important to a bake. "It's completely alien to your own kitchen at home,” Quinn told Cosmopolitan. “The temperature fluctuates—you'd be making a meringue and it would start raining, or we'd try and make pastry and it would be 27 degrees outside. The technical challenges and lack of time and lack of fridge and work space are the enemy on that show."

7. THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE CREATED BY TOM HOVEY, AFTER THE EPISODE HAS FILMED.

You know those fun illustrations of the confections that pop up when each baker explains what they’re going to make that day? Those are all drawn by illustrator Tom Hovey. He was working as a video editor on the first season of GBBO when the producers realized they needed an extra visual element—so he offered his illustration skills. And while we see the illustrations on screen before the bakers attempt to make them a reality, Hovey told the BBC he draws them “a pack of photos of the finished bakes from the set after each episode has been filmed … I sketch out all the bakes quickly in pencil to get the details, form and shape I am after. I then work these up by hand drawing them all in ink, then they’re scanned and colored digitally, and then I add the titles and ingredient arrows. It's a fairly well streamlined process now.”

Even if a bake goes horribly wrong, Hovey said his “illustrations are a representation of what the bakers hope to create. Even if the bakers don't produce what they’ve intended to I have a degree of artistic license to make them look good.”

8. THE CONTESTANTS DON’T INTERACT WITH THE JUDGES VERY MUCH.

“They very much tried to keep it unbiased,” Quinn said about how the bakers don’t spend much time interacting with the judges. “We saw a lot more of Mel and Sue. Mary and Paul would purely come in to do what we called the royal tour—where they'd come in and find out what you were making, and then they'd come back in for judging. You're not in the same hotel having sleepovers! You form more of a relationship after the show when you see them at things like BBC Good Food or whatever—but they need to keep their distance [on the show]. They're there as judges."

9. MAKING SURE THAT THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE IS ONE PERSON'S JOB.

Sandi Toksvig in 'The Great British Bake Off'
Netflix

Another vital behind-the-scenes role is that of the food researcher. It’s down to them to make sure that the elaborate concoction the judges have decided the bakers have to whip up is actually possible, given the ingredients, instructions, and time the bakers will be allowed.

The tent presents its own challenges, too, because it could be hot or cold, depending on the weather, and it tends to have quite a wobbly floor, which can make delicate decorating work trickier than it might otherwise seem. “The tent is just mocked up, so the floor is really bumpy and bouncy because you’d got so many camera guys running around,” Quinn told the Irish Examiner.

10. THE SHOW GOT INTO SOME TROUBLE FOR ITS PARTNERSHIP WITH SMEG.

Part of GBBO’s homey charm has to do with the setup of the tent where the bakers do their cooking, and few appliances spell “retro” as well as a colorful Smeg refrigerator. A viewer fed up with what they described as “blatant product promotion” wrote to the Radio Times to complain, and an investigation was launched into the series’ agreement with Smeg. As BBC guidelines state that a series may "not accept free or reduced cost products" in return for "on-air or online credits, links or off-air marketing,” the broadcaster ended up having to write the company a check for all the times their product got some screen time.

11. THERE ARE NEVER ANY LEFTOVERS.

The judges only take a mouthful of every bake, which seems to leave an awful lot of leftover pastries, cakes, and ridiculously complicated bread sculptures. But don’t worry—none of it goes to waste. “The crew eats all the leftovers," Beedle told The Mirror. "We get some brought to us in the green room so we can taste each other's bakes, but it's only slithers."

12. HUNDREDS OF SEASON FIVE VIEWERS WROTE IN TO COMPLAIN ABOUT “SABOTAGE.”

Midway through season five, contestant Iain Watters had a bit of an issue with his Baked Alaska. Realizing that his ice cream had not yet set, he threw the entire dish into the trash rather than serve the judges a subpar dessert and was sent home as a result. Footage from the episode made is seem as if fellow contestant Diana Beard had removed his ice cream from the freezer. Beard left the show at just about the same time due to health issues, but some viewers (811, to be exact) smelled sabotage—and wrote in to the show’s producers to complain. Media watchdog group Ofcom looked into the matter, but said that they had assessed viewers’ complaints and “they do not raise issues warranting further investigation under Ofcom’s rules.”

Paul Hollywood took to Twitter to clear up what became known as “bingate,” tweeting: “Ice cream being left out of fridge last night for 40 seconds did not destroy Iain’s chances in the bake off, what did was his decision BIN.”

13. MARY BERRY WATCHED BREAKING BAD BACKSTAGE.

Although it looks pretty nonstop on screen, there’s quite a bit of downtime during the show’s filming days. Especially for the show’s judges and hosts. Former judge Mary Berry had one unique way of passing the time: binge-watching Breaking Bad. “It’s shocking,” Berry told The Telegraph. “Then you get into it and you think: ‘Have I seen episode four or five?’ You get hooked. It’s better than motor racing, which [my husband] Paul watches—though I’d prefer Downton Abbey.” She’d apparently rope former hosts Mel and Sue into watching it with her on occasion. What better way to relax during a long day of baking than by watching Walter White, umm, baking?

14. THE APPLICATION FORM IS NO JOKE.

Fancy your chances in the Bake Off tent? If you’ve been inspired by the show and reckon you could nab a couple of Star Baker titles, brace yourself: The application form is a whopping eight pages long, and it’s full of probing questions. As well as giving details of your hobbies, lifestyle, and level of experience with various types of baked goods, it also asks applicants to describe their baking style, and answer a couple of existential-sounding questions.

"It's a long application form. I think it's designed to put some people off, essentially," fourth season contestant Beca Lyne-Pirkis said. "It asks you about everything you have done, good and bad. It's designed to get information about your character, stories, mishaps and successes."

Still fancy applying? Though submissions are not open at the moment, you can keep your eyes open for when the next batch of contestants are being accepted here.

15. THE AUDITION PROCESS IS EVEN MORE GRUELING.

If you happen to make it through the application process, the audition process is even more difficult. “Every person who makes it into the marquee has passed a rigorous series of tests,” GBBO creator and executive producer Anna Beattie told The Telegraph. In addition to the application form, The Telegraph reported that there is “a 45-minute telephone call with a researcher, bringing two bakes to an audition in London, a screen test and an interview with a producer. If they get through that, there is a second audition baking two recipes … in front of the cameras, and an interview with the show psychologist to make sure they can cope with being filmed for up to 16 hours a day.”

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