Joseph F. DeFrates

Joseph F. DeFrates

Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Death 19 Aug 2001 (aged 91)
Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Burial Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 32875721 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Illinois' only world champion of chili. Creator of the canned Chilli Man Chili.

Mr. DeFrates won the International Chili Championship in 1973 on his fifth attempt. He claimed the World's Championship Chili Cookoff in 1975 and promptly retired from competition. Mr. DeFrates helped popularize the "two-l" Illinois spelling of "chilli," a tradition started after the owner of the Dew Chilli Parlor, a departed Springfield institution, misspelled his sign in 1909. In 1975, Mr. DeFrates started the Illinois State Championship Chilli Cookoff in Springfield, running the competition until 1987. Mr. DeFrates got his start in chili after learning alongside his father, Walter "Port" DeFrates, a restaurateur, and uncle Ray DeFrates, who started canning Ray's Chilli.

After serving with the Army in the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. DeFrates married his wife, Rose, in 1944. He began working for Ray's Chilli as a sales manager.

Wanting to get into the business himself, he took two years to develop his own recipe and business before putting Chilli Man Chili on the market in 1953. DeFrates sold the Chilli Man Chili name and recipe to Milnot Co. in 1971. He never publicly divulged the secret.

Joseph F. DeFrates, 91, of Springfield died Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001, at Regency Nursing Care Residence. He was born June 15, 1910, in Springfield, the son of Walter C. and Annabelle West DeFrates. He married Rose Hogan in 1944; she preceded him in death in 1995.

Mr. DeFrates attended Ss. Peter and Paul School. He was a food products and manufacturing salesman and a developer and producer of Chilli Man Chilli. He was a Mason and U.S. Army veteran of World War II, serving in the 30th Infantry Division at the Battle of the Bulge. He was a VIP honorary recruiter of the Illinois National Guard. He was a past director of the Food Merchandisers Institute. He was a winner of the World Championship Chilli Cook-off in Terlingua, Texas, in 1973 and the International Chilli Cook-off in Rosamond, Calif., in 1975. He was a lifetime member of the International Chili Society, where he served on the judges panel. He was a past member of the National Canners Association. He was a director of the Illinois Chapter D of the Travelers Protective Association.

He was a member of St. Agnes Church, Springfield York Rite; Springfield Chapter 1 RAM; Springfield Council 2 CM; Elwood Commandery 6 Knights Templar; and Royal Order of Jesters Court 20. He was a member of Ansar Shrine, having completed 50 years as a noble, Legion of Honor, Senior Patrol and an honorary member of the director's staff; Ansar Retirees Club; Capitol City Shrine Club; VFW Post 755; Cosmopolitan Club of Springfield; AARP and YMCA. He had been a member for more than 50 years of Springfield Lodge St. Paul's 500 AF&AM plus Consistory Valley of Springfield. He was a lifetime honorary member of Moslem Temple in Detroit and Ainad Temple in East St. Louis. He was a 50-year member of the Eagles 437 and the Elks 158.

Survivors: a half brother, Michael DeFrates of California.

Funeral Mass: St. Agnes Church, the Very Rev. Patrick Wright, VF, officiating. Burial: Calvary Cemetery.

State Journal-Register(Springfield, IL) - August 20, 2001

Family Members

Gravesite Details Buried in the Thomas D. Hogan plot

Sponsored by Ancestry


Planning a visit to Calvary Cemetery?



  • Created by: BjJ
  • Added: 12 Jan 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32875721
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph F. DeFrates (15 Jun 1910–19 Aug 2001), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32875721, citing Calvary Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by BjJ (contributor 46902476) .