O. T. Hodge developed the recipe which bears his name and began selling chile at the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904. Success in this endeavor brought demand for a retail presence in St. Louis, which commenced upon closing of the Fair.
The business grew. There were seventeen O.T. Hodge Chile Parlors between Jefferson Avenue and the Mississippi River by 1930. Other locations, such as one on Collinsville Avenue in East St. Louis and one in Chicago expanded the tradition and remained into the post World II era.
Early on, each Chile Parlor made its own chile product on premise. As the chain grew, O.T. built a manufacturing plant in South St. Louis, O.T. died in 1942, leaving the business to his family.
From O.T.'s death until the post World War II era, the company consisted of separate manufacturing and retailing (chile parlor) operations. The manufacturing arm produced product for the O.T. Hodge Chile Parlors, and also produced a canned product for the retail grocery market in St. Louis and regionally known as "Hodges Chile."
O.T.'s son-in-law, Harry Brunsen, began management and later ownership of the retail establishments following World War II. The processed chile manufacturing continued, but a new plant dedicated to production of chile exclusively for the O.T. Hodge Chile Parlors was established on Oregon Avenue in St. Louis. This plant remains in a modernized form as the producer of the O.T. Hodge Chile recipe for the company's stores.
Today the family continues to own the business through O.T. Hodge Licensing, L.L.C. The company maintains the recipe and Federal Trade Mark for the O.T. HodgeŽ name, as well as responsibility for the quality of the product and its presentation.
Downtown St. Louis, 1955
1930's O.T. Hodge Neon Sign
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