Surfin' Chili 1996: X-Files: The Chili Incident

96 Team Despite a devastating loss in the Space Trivia contest, Surfin' Chili managed to pull off the most incredible cookoff coup of all times: we won all four major trophies (Judges' Choice Best Chili, Peoples' Choice Best Chili, travelling People's Choice trophy, and Showmanship). Well, OK, we didn't exactly WIN all of them, but we did have them all at our booth at once. That's because I stole all four.

No Escargot! There were 25 teams from all over the NASA community in Houston, including space shuttle and station projects, with teams ranging from the public affairs office to the 1995 astronaut class (the Flying Escargot) to a bunch of medical doctors. Surfin' Chili was probably the 5th oldest team with continuous representation, behind (in no particular order) PAO, Wrong Stuff, BARF, and Red Baron.

Note: drinking screwdrivers starting at 8 a.m. makes the day go a lot faster.

Our skit this year was an X-Files takeoff called X-Files: The Chili Incident. It has the X-Mobile, crop circles, mysterious disappearances, the Unabomber, Zeta Reticulans, and the return of Pat McGroin. And oh yeah, we deliberately chose to put a guy in drag to help our Showmanship chances. (Picture by Dale Martin, special to the Surfin' Chili page.)

Mark in drag FOD Awards:

But dammit, we lost the shomanship to that !@*&!#^%*$ Barney team. The Showmanship trophy goes to the team who displays the most spirit before and during the cookoff. This includes pre-cookoff propaganda, participation in events, and general obnoxiousness. The Barney team won, I suspect, due to their propagandizing (which included stuff like painting dinosaur footprints outside a few buildings [with water-based paint] and hanging a banner outside JSC that renamed it the "Lyndon Barney Johnson Space Center").

Next year, guys...

The 1996 cookoff was the first one in which one of the teams had their own web page (this one, of course, which has been around since December 1995). At least one other team, impressed by the technical wizardry required for web page building, stole the idea and began to make their own. The Red Baron Chili page was up for a while, but apparently they found that they couldn't compete with Surfin' Chili and took it down.