Sometimes unlikely combos become household meals in specific regions. One such combo is chili and cinnamon rolls, which may date back to the mid-20th century in Midwest schools.
The cinnamon roll and chili combo comes from the creation of the National School Lunch Program in 1946, which helped schools cut costs by using federal government funds.
Schools would request certain foods, and the USDA would deliver them in bulk, which most likely led to the combination of cinnamon rolls and chili.
To meet the USDA’s requirements, the cinnamon rolls and chili were counted as grains and protein respectively. Students loved the combo and would dunk the rolls in the chili.
Today, many Midwest restaurants carry on the tradition. The Boulder Tap House in Ames, Iowa, has a chili burger with a cinnamon roll bun, and the Runza chain serves the combo.
If you ever find yourself in Iowa, Nebraska, or any other Midwestern community, ask for some nice, warm chili and sweet cinnamon rolls.