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Ben's Chili Bowl Half Smokes

I'm always getting requests for recipes and copycats for chili dogs and Texas Hots and Coney Islands. I found this recently. "Ben's Chili Bowl" is a Washington D.C establishment, and "half smokes" appear to be peculiar to that area, although they can be found in some larger cities such as Chicago. For an article with photos, see here:

You can buy Ben's Half Smokes and Ben's Chili online: Ben's Chili Bowl or

There are clone recipes for Ben's chili below and on these sites:


Recipe Fork

In the Kitchen with Little Buddy

If you don't live in Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, finding authentic half smokes may be a problem. They are a spicy sausage that was originally made with half beef and half pork, although you see "all beef" half smokes now. The spiciness appears to come from a lot of red pepper flakes in the mix. It's difficult to find any half smokes at all outside the Maryland - Washington D.C. - Virginia area. However, you can order them from the Ben's link above. Half smokes were originally created by the Briggs Company, but some message board posters say that after the company was sold, their half-smokes changed, and today's Esskay - Briggs half smokes are not as well regarded, at least by those posters. The best ones today may be Manger's Half Smokes, but you may not be able to find them outside Baltimore, MD. For a history of the half smoke, see: Washington City Paper

Ben's Chili Bowl Chili Clone


3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. ground beef
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 c. beef broth
5 tbsp. chili powder
6 tbsp. corn meal
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 bay leaf


1. Heat oil and sauté garlic and onion 7 to 9 minutes or until golden. Add chili powder, sugar and cumin. 
Cook, stirring constantly, 2 more minutes. Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until beef is evenly browned. 
Stir in remaining ingredients, then reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until very thick. 
Discard the bay leaf before serving.

2. How to make a chili half-smoke, Ben’s style: get some all-beef half-smokes, grill them, then split them 
down the center. Run a line of mustard down the split, then top them with chili and chopped onions.
Source:Ben's Chili Bowl

School Cafeteria Cornflake Cookies

From: Lori 
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 8:43 AM
Subject: Searching for a cornflake cookie recipe

This cookie was served in Oklahoma public schools in the 70s and 80s.

It was essentially a shortbread-type cookie with cornflakes, however using a traditional shortbread recipe and 
adding cornflakes did not result in the same cookie.  The cookie part was almost silky and slightly crumbly.  
The cornflakes stayed crisp somehow.

In the early 90s, in Hawaii, there was a company called Schoolhouse Favorites that made the same cookie which 
was sold in convenience stores.  They have a website but their current products do not appear to be the same as 
those in the 90s.

I have seen many recipes for cornflake cookies that involve peanut butter, nuts and/or all sorts of other ingredients, 
but the cookie I had contained none of those.

It was a very simple cookie, amazingly good and apparently impossible for me to duplicate.

Any idea what that recipe might be?  



Hi Lori,

I cannot find any mention of cornflake cookies with a connection to Oklahoma Schools, nor can I find any mention of a company or a brand called “Schoolhouse Favorites”.

There are, however, some cornflake cookies recipe out there with no peanut butter and no nuts. Many of them contain oats, but I did not include those. There’s one here with a Hawaii connection:

Cooking Hawaiian Style

There are two more below.


Easy  Cornflake  Cookies

1 c. butter or margarine
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. unsifted flour
Cornflakes, crushed

Combine all but the cornflakes.  Roll into marble sized balls.  Roll in crushed cornflakes.  
Flatten and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.  
Cornflake Cookies

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter or oleo
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. each baking soda and cream of tartar

Add dry ingredients to creamed mix gradually.  Stir in 2 cups cornflakes; mix well and add 1/2 cup nuts.  
Drop by teaspoons about 2 inches apart (cookies will spread out).  Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.    
You can flatten the cookies a little before baking with the bottom of a moistened glass. 
You are awesome!  And fast.  

For whatever reason the one with cream of tartar makes sense to me.  Thanks for looking for these.  
I’ve got three more recipes to try.

School Cafeteria Square Pizza & Spoon Burgers

From: Chris
Sent: Saturday, July 25, 2015 4:03 PM
Subject: pizza

Hi, I am looking for the pizza recipe that my elementary school used to serve. It was the best! 
It had this spongy crust that might have had cornmeal in it,(it was pale yellow in color) it was 
light and fluffy with a ground beef and sauce mixture and a light sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.  
Of course it was square and  no side crust. I went to Crestview Elementary school in Brooklyn Park, MN. 
This would have been from 1968 to 1974. Also a recipe for what they called Spoonburgers, it was like 
a sloppy joe but with a white sauce instead of red. Spoonburger day was the only time we got to have 
seconds, yummy.. Would appreciate any info at all.
Thank you Chris

Hello Chris,

I found Crestview Elementary school in Brooklyn Park, MN mentioned on several sites, but I had no success finding any recipes from there or any mention at all of the pizza or spoon burgers served there.

I have a couple of spoon burgers recipes on my site at: Spoonburgers

There’s also one here called “white sloppy joes”: White Sloppy Joes

I recently searched for recipes for school cafeteria recipes for square or rectangular pizza. What I found is here: Square Pizza

I’ll post this on the site for reader input.


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