Colorado State Chili Challenge celebrates 10 years of heat

Monday afternoon ignited the 10th annual Chili Challenge at Colorado State, a week-long event jointly hosted by CSU Dining Services and the Poudre Fire Authority at Corbett Dining Center.

The rules are simple: contestants who finish an eight ounce bowl of chili advance to the next day, with each day’s chili getting progressively hotter. Contestants who last all five days receive an “I Survived” tee-shirt and (maybe more importantly) bragging rights.


To get through the entire week, though, participating students can benefit from the knowledge of repeat competitors.

“Milk is your best friend,” said Brendan Isbell, a junior computer engineering major who has completed the challenge twice.

“After you eat, just lay down for the rest of the day.” said Matthew Clang, also a junior computer engineering major who has completed the challenge three times.

All students with an on-campus meal plan were eligible to enter, but the deadline for registration was Wednesday, Oct. 3. More than 250 students participated in the Chili Challenge last year.

The contest, which celebrates Fire Prevention Week, ends Friday.

“Relating the Chili Challenge to fire prevention week works really well,” said Brittany White, marketing director for CSU Residential Dining Services. “We get the fire department involved and the fire chief walks around and talks with the students.”

Though the PFA has been involved with the event in the past, it’s especially important for firefighters  to be present this year to answer questions and give fire safety advice following the High Park Fire, said Jason Mantas, fire captain for PFA.

“[The High Park Fire] definitely raised awareness and now students get the chance to come up to us and ask us questions about wildfire prevention,” Mantas said.

In addition to answering students’ questions, firefighters also serve the chili and, according to Mantas, enjoy themselves while doing it.

White said, “This is my favorite event, the students are excited about it. We have a lot of repeats each year…it’s so fun.”


The contest’s sponsors include U.S. Foods, Cholula, Gilberto’s Gourmet, Horsetooth Hot Sauce and Dave’s Hot Sauce.

Collegian writer Mikaela Antonelli can be reached at