Pastime: Band concessional chili dogs

As the cool evening nights of October draws near and Lumberjack football heats up in this modern high-scoring, take-no-prisoner style of football that now permeates Warren; all I can think about on the cool, fall evenings at a high school football game are Mary Lou Martin’s signature Chili Hotdogs.

By Maylon T. Rice

Years ago, I went back for a football game and the Lumberjacks were certainly taking care of business on Monticello High down on the field, but I had to wander up to the new concession stands at the new Jim Hurley Stadium.

Oh, it was a Blessed ball game, with Warren winning, but a dark truth came to light and changed the evening.

The only disappointment of the entire evening was when I walked down to the end zone concession stands only to find there were none – no not a single one – No Mary Lou Martin Chili Dog – for sale.

It wasn’t as if they had run out….

They just do not have them anymore.

What a shame!

Ah, the simpler days of yesteryear.

The games at old O.O. Axle Field, (just like at the new Jim Hurley Stadium), were indeed social, athletic and cultural events for all of Warren.

And the concession stand fare was, while limited, simply delicious.

I have always found it somewhat funny that the WHS Band Booster Concession stand would NOT sell chocolate candy bars – due to the heat and the chocolate melting and making a mess. 

But yet, the concession stand sold bubble gum, which Mr. Martin viciously hated. 

He just loved to call out a gum chewing band member, the demerits would fly when the gum chewing culprit was found out among his charges.

But Mary Lou Martin’s Chili Dogs were, well, they were and still are to absolutely die for.

Accept no imitators.

For none can be found in all of the entire Arkansas High School football concession stands.

Nothing like them was ever for sale in the old Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference schools at Magnolia, Monticello, Russellville or Arkadelphia.

And even today in the SEC, with its sights on taking in that training school down in Austin, Texas or that community college in Norman, Oklahoma, none has chili dogs like the Lumberjacks fans once enjoyed.

Don’t try to perfect this recipe – that would be blasphemy.

So as to keep those uninitiated people from imagining what was in the chili dogs; here is the handed down, the absolute recipe.

Hint: If you have to ask what’s “a block of 4-star chili” – back away and ask any elder person you might know beyond the age of 65 for help.

From my longtime friend, Gayle Green Plumb’s post, here is the official Marching Lumberjack recipe from the kitchen of Mary Lou Martin.

Mrs. Martin’s chili recipe:

  • 1 block chili – (4-star chili works best)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 pkg chili seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 2 tbsps. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. Tabasco or 1 tsp hot pepper relish
  • Mix chili with water and boil until chili is melted.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Put chili on both sides of the hot dog bun and place a hot boiled wiener in the middle.

Smell that concoction and raise the paper wrapped treat to mouth level and chow down.

Now, take a breath, raise your head back down and plow right into that messy, tasty chili dog, again.

Repeat until all that’s left is a stained piece of paper. 

The chili dogs were always the best after Oct. 1, unless there were colder, rainy, wet Friday nights in September. 

They were so delicious, when Lumberjack fans traveled to away games, the cold, slimy, boiled wieners served with mustard, mayo or even ketchup at such destinations as Camden, Magnolia, Hope, McGehee or even Monticello, couldn’t get near to its texture, flavor and taste.

The late Austin Rotton, the game clock and scoreboard operator at O.O. Axley Field was among many who had a standing order for a pair of the delicious hotdogs at half-time.

Other standing orders came from the chain gang (even its aging supervisor Watt Childs) and Jackie Scobey, the longtime film guru of the old silent black and white 16 mm game films, would climb down off his perch for a band concession stand chili dog at half time.

No one wanted the concession stand to run out.

Even our quiet and reserved school superintendent Mr. James M. Hughes, loved those chili dogs. 

He was the only guy at the games wearing a tie but he loved those chili dogs. I can see him with his tie slung back over his shoulder to keep the chili from dripping on his tie, as he devoured a chili dog or two during the evening.

And I have to wonder how many buns the Colonial Bread man brought to the games. 

Could it have been more than 12 dozen? or 20 dozen? Heck I have no idea how many chili dogs they would sell on a cool Friday night.

A veteran group of voluntary band parents kept vigil over the concessions stand. I can see Sue Woodard, Freda Green, Nina Forest, Nell Reep, Ruby Garrison, Lummie Reynolds, and a collection of others huddled around in the band concession stand gently stirring up the chili mixture, slathering the brown-gooey concoction on the buns, plopping in the steam wieners and handing them out over the crowded standing-room-only throng throughout the night. 

Just how many of those hot, woolen black and orange military style uniforms were purchased from the proceeds of those delicious chili dogs?

Pastimes like this one still taste good .. oh, yes, they do.

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh thank you thank you for the recipe for the chili dogs. I can’t wait to make them or to talk a school concession stand into making them. I’ve had people from other towns tell me how they loved playing Warren in Warren so they could get those wonderful chili dogs!

  2. Great article. Mary Lou and Coon Man Martin are very much missed. You can’t find a decent Frito Chili Pie either.

  3. I have Mary Lou’s handwritten chili recipe
    and pickle too! It’s a copy, but, still her hand writing. I keep it in a special place in the cabinet, not to mention in my head!😆 That may not last too much longer…😳

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