Chili Queen & Chiquita & How's tricks?

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Sep 20 17:18:12 UTC 2006

Any historical citations for "chili queen" and "Chiquita" and "How's  Tricks" 
will be appreciated.
Perhaps "Chiquita" (female name) is relevant to the "Chick" (male  name) 
Entry from September 20, 2006 
Chili Queen (or Chile Queen)
A “chili queen” (or “chile queen") was a woman in the 1880 and 1890s who 
sold  chili. The term was popular in San Antonio, and the chili queens operated 
near  or in the Alamo. The term is of historical interest today. 

28  September 1891, Daily Light (San Antonio, TX), pg. 2?: 
The chile  queen has taken to the stage again. This time she will “supe” in 
the dramatic.  

3 November 1897, Stevens Point (WI) Daily Journal, pg. 2?:  


Their Reign Is Faded, But They  Rules 
Royally For a Long Times—They Were 
Especially  Gracious to the Tourist From 
the North and Made It Pay.  

When the northern tourist used to strike the town, the first things the  
patriotic citizen who was doing the honors would proudly steer him up against  
would be the Alamo plaza chili stand, with its attendant divinity, the far famed  
chili queen. 

“Now, sir, you’ve seen the historic Alamo, the old  cathedral and the 
missions and got a whiff of our ozone,” the citizen would  remark with righteous 
pride, “and tonight you must come and east a Mexican  supper and see the chili 
queens. The chili queens are one of our most noted  attractions—the beautiful, 
dark eyed senoritas, you know.” 

The tourist  generally knew. This was in the late eighties, the palmy days of 
the chili  queens, when their fame had spread to the larger northern cities. 
Some very  musical verse about them had appeared in the magazines, and in the 
newspaper  sketches they were idealized as stunning creatures, with the rich, 
brown skins  of the tropics and the languorous grace and bewitching black eyes 
of Spanish  donnas. 

When the citizen and the tourist stroll up to the gay looking  chili stand 
with its big red, green and yellow lanterns and its scintillating  pyramids of 
cheap but gorgeous glassware, she promptly shuts up the sporty young  man who 
is bandying slang with her or quits haggling with the chili gorged  bootblack 
over change. 

She hastily rearranges the flowers in her hair  and the big bouquet at he 
bosom and beams o nthe new arrivals with sparkling  eyes. 

The citizen addresses her with an easy familiarity.  

“Hello, Chiquita! How’s tricks?” 

“Hello, senor. Tricks are  bueno. How is my amigo, the senor?” 

They all used the Spanish dialect  when they had special customers, despite 
the fact that other tongues came easier  to some of them by nature. There were 
six reigning queens on the plaza in 1888,  and one of them was of German 
descent and another was born in the island where  the sod is highly green and there 
are no snakes. The other four, however, were  senoritas of the genuine 
Mexican variety. 

Chiquita’s eyes sparkle with  their most brilliant luster, and, with a quick 
succession of flashing smiles,  she uses her red lips and white teeth to good 
advantage on the tourist while she  engaged in badinage with the citizen. 

“You’re looking prettier than ever  tonight, Chiquita. I’m glad of it, 
because we want to make a good impression on  my friend here. He’s from away up 
north, you know, and he’s heard of you  before.” 

Then Chiquita uses her tinkling laugh and slaps the citizen  gently on the 

“So sorry, but I have not a single nickel to give  you. But take this flower 

She transfers a big rose from her  corsage to the citizen’s buttonhole. The 
tourist is beginning to want his share  of the fun. 

“Yes, I heard of you up there, and that’s one reason I came  down here—to 
see you, you know.” 

“Oh my! You must have a flower too.”  

Her hands linger lightly on his coat as she carefully pins a spray of  
honeysuckle on, and the tourist begins to believe that he must have come down  here 
for this. He is enjoying himself very much. 

“Well, let’s being on  our chili peppers,” suggests the citizen. “You say 
you never ate one before? We  had better take a little of everything, then, so 
you can say you ‘did’ San  Antonio right. Bring us the whole bill of fare, 

The queen  turns sharply to the slimy looking old Mexican who has charge of 
the steaming  pots and kettles in the rear and rattles off this with a celerity 
which seems to  astonish the tourist: 

“Jesus, andarle! Dos platas de chili con carne, y  dos tamales con chili 
gravy, de enchilades tortillas, y dos tazas de cafe.”  

The fiercely burning chili con carne agonizes the tourist and he chokes  on 
the enchilades, but he manages to struggle through the tamales by drinking a  
great deal of water. Meanwhile, the chili queen sits opposite him in a  
languishing attitude and keeps up her tinkling laugh. When it comes time to go,  he 
insists on paying the bill, despite protests of the citizen, and tenders a $5  
bill. Chiquita seems to have trouble in counting out the change and a thought  
strikes the tourist. 

“Say, Chiquita,” he says tentatively, “you needn’t  mind that if”— 

“You mean you want to make me a present?” 

As that  is what he means, she tucks the bill in her bosom, and gives the 
tourist a fond  look. She places another rose from her hair and pins it on his 
coat and squeezes  his hand in bidding him goodby. 

Then, when her customers are gone, she  goes and sits down in front of one of 
the steaming kettles, with a lap full of  tortillas, which she uses to scoop 
up large mouthfuls of chili. 

Chiquita  was a fair type of all the chili queens. They were not the idyllic 
creatures of  popular conception that they appeared to be when on dress 
parade, but most of  them were really comely and they had the charm at least of 

The  glory of the chili queens waned and flickered away with great 
suddenness, and  they themselves drifted away from the high tide of fame and fortune in 
a like  manner.—San Antonio Express. 

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list