The Hormel Chili Factory

June 22, 2009
By Kara Krause SILVER, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Kara Krause SILVER, Ann Arbor, Michigan
6 articles 2 photos 0 comments

Ernie got up at 4:30am, exactly the way he did every single day of the week for the past 30 years, to work at the Hormel Chili factory in Hormel, Wisconsin. Just a few days away from retirement, he was all set to sell his house, move into the Winnebago, and hit the road. But poor Ernie: his job was to clean out the huge tanks in which the chili was made at the factory ~ on that fateful day, he was feeling frisky about receiving his much anticipated retirement gift from his supervisor, a night out at the VFW Hall with special entertainment, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, Ernie was preoccupied with all the excited feelings and wasn’t thinking too clearly. He habitually crawled down into the wrong tank -not the one scheduled for cleaning that day, the one scheduled for cooking! I will spare you the gory details, but let’s just say that it involves scalding hot oil and the overwhelming scent of an industrial amount of onions … not a way I’d want to go at all! Sadly, although Ernie had planned on hitting the road, it wasn’t in a Winnebago; instead, he was inside of a case of delicious Harmel chili -available in a grocery store near you!
Several weeks later, it was Hormel Chili night at the Gunderson household. “Oh boy, my favorite!” screeched the young son. “Can I open the can and microwave it? Oh please, mom?” His mother eyed him cautiously: “Oh, alright. Just be careful.” The son jumped and kicked his feet together, yelping repeatedly, “Oh, boy!” The dog became excited as well; soon enough, the whole family gathered around the son and chatted as dinner was being prepared. He got the can opener out, maladroitly twisted the lever, and flipped the can upside down over a bowl; nothing came out, and he needed the assistance of a spoon until the contents slid out with a loud slurp. It looked like a disgusting tube of sludge sitting there in the bowl, still maintaining the shape and horizontal imprints from the can, but the boy was still very excited. “Oh, I didn’t’ know they made an extra chunky version, Mom! Just look at all the delicious morsels of meat and beans!”His mother looked perplexed: “Hmm, I don’t remember buying an extra chunky version…I didn’t know they even made one.” She walked over and examined the contents of the can more closely, her facial expression darkening and growing very pallid as she saw what looked amazingly like a nose, and maybe even a pair of eyes. The son was already digging in, chewing viciously on an eyeball; he claimed it was delicious and encouraged the family to join in. They sat down and ate their dinner in silence while feeling of primal cold-bloodedness swept over them, a feeling which was better left ignored.

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