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Ravens chili tale

Anyone who enjoyed a nice, warm bowl of chili at the Ravens game Sunday can thank Sean Bell, who went looking for the same thing a few years ago and stumbled instead on a new career..

Bell was a stay-at-home dad and season ticket holder back in 2006 when he tried, and failed, to find chili at the stadium during a cold Ravens game. That gave him an idea: why not sell his own chili, which always went over well at family potlucks?

“We pitched the chili; they liked it,” the 39-year-old Bowie resident told me. The next season, he had a booth in the stadium. He made the chili himself, mixing it up in big crab pots in a rented kitchen.

It would take him six to eight hours to make enough for one game, and he worked the booth himself.

In the years since, the chili has outgrown the stand-alone booth and moved into larger concession stands. As of this season, the chili is available throughout the stadium, expanding into the club level and suites.

Giant supermarket has picked up the soup, too. Bell's Famous Chili is in the hot bars in 180 stores, from Delaware to Northern Virginia.

Needless to say, Bell is no longer making the soup himself in crab pots. A contract manufacturer mixes it up now in 2,000-pound batches. Which means Bell is back in his seat in the stadium, watching the game and enjoying his chili, which he described as a healthful blend of turkey, black beans, onions, red and green peppers, tomatoes and spices.

"As stadium fare goes it's pretty healthy," he said. "It's a great comfort food."

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