ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The green chile spat between New Mexico and Colorado has now become a very public showdown. While the rest of the country has its eyes set on Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, a lot of New Mexicans are fired up about a different matchup: the chile challenge.
Home-roasted, home-grown green chile is a point of pride for New Mexico. So, when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock bet his finest green chiles on the Super Bowl, New Mexicans reacted.
“I’ve never heard of chiles growing in Colorado,” said Miia Hebert in a story for KRQE News 13 earlier this week.
Those words, heard in Pueblo, Colo., sparked a challenge.
“We just wanted to let New Mexico residents know that we’ve got peppers too and maybe we should get together and have a little friendly competition,” said Rod Slyhoff, President and CEO of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.
Slyhoff said while Colorado grows chile similar to the Hatch Valley, theirs are “meatier which allows it to roast better,” adding Colorado’s chile is “more flavorful and desirable.”
It’s something New Mexicans are taking personally.
“Take away a Porsche from Germans and you will find that the Germans will not be too happy about that,” said Manuel Montoya, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico.
Montoya said the challenge runs deep, that green chile has historical, economic and emotional implications for New Mexicans. He said the challenge threatens New Mexico’s brand recognition, adding there is no competition.
“You’re not going to be able to lay out on a table and scientifically determine who has the better chile,” Montoya said. “It represents and symbolizes a certain way of living in New Mexico, and we’re very proud of who we are when we talk about being New Mexican.”
Even Governor Susana Martinez chimed in. “Now, we may not have an NFL team here in New Mexico, but we have definitely won the Super Bowl in reference to green chile year after year after year,” she said.
The man behind the challenge says it is all in good fun.
“The governor’s words were, ‘hey, we do not have to wait for the chile festival, we will have a competition anytime they’re ready,'” Slyhoff said. Slyhoff said he’s serious about setting up a green chile cook-off with New Mexico.
Some people are accusing Denver Mayor Hancock of backtracking now. He posted on his Facebook page that he is actually wagering Denver’s famous green chile stew.
KRQE reached out to Hancock to ask him about this controversy he has started. News 13 got a statement that said Colorado and New Mexico share a love for the Broncos and a love for green chile.