The Quest For A Healthier, Happier 3-Way Cincinnati Chili

Anyone with ties to Ohio knows what a three-way means. No, not what you're thinking! It's a long-beloved fast food dish of chocolate- and cinnamon-spiced ground beef chili over spaghetti with a tall, pillowy coating of finely shredded mild cheddar. Adding chopped raw onions makes it a four-way, which is highly recommended. Once you get over the initial skepticism about this combination, you'll understand why it's stuck around for so long. Two joints vie for the title of greatest three-way: Skyline and Gold Star, and one of them just pulled ahead in the race. Yes, Gold Star vegetarian chili is coming to a pile of spaghetti near you.

Launched last Friday to coincide with Lent, when many Catholics avoid eating meat on Fridays, the vegetarian chili recipe was meticulously honed by Gold Star's development chef Ryan Miller. "[The chili] is gluten-free, soy-free and full of chili goodness," says Miller of the new pea protein–based formula. "It has the same look and texture as Gold Star's original recipe chili, and includes our secret blend of 13 spices." Spiked with beans, thickened with corn grits and topped with cheddar, onions and oyster crackers, you may not even notice the meat's not there.

Reviews from the native Ohioans of Cincinnati Business Courier were largely positive, with one editor claiming to not even be able to tell the difference. Unfortunately the chili will only be available during the "temporary vegetarian" season, but until then you can try it on your three-way, salad, cheese fries or even Coney, which is, of course, made of meat.