Woodward Avenue Chili

If there’s one thing Detroit knows, it’s cars.  Well cars and chili, specifically chili on hot dogs, or coney dogs as we refer to the nostalgic treat of warm Midwest style chili topped on a locally made frank.  Woodward Ave Chili has given us the perfect dog topping chili as well as a hearty and robust Chili with beans for those times when all you need is a spoon.

Tell us a little about yourself and the company you own/run, what is your location, when did you start and how long has the company been in business 


For seven decades, Giovanni’s has played an important role in the development of specialty food products. In 1929, Giovanni Ricossa, an Italian immigrant, started his culinary career as an assistant to a group of French chefs at Detroit’s famous Cadillac Hotel. Giovanni soon learned their Culinary secrets and perfected the art of pâté preparation. It was also at the Cadillac that Giovanni first prepared his antipasto which he remembered from his childhood days in northwestern Italy. This antipasto became so popular with the hotel guests that Giovanni was urged by a friend to package his delicious product.

In 1935, Giovanni and his wife Elvira purchased production equipment and set up headquarters for his fledgling business in a rented garage in Detroit. In 1944, Giovanni’s antipasto was declared by the U.S. government to be “unessential to the war effort” and they were not permitted to buy glass or cans. In efforts to survive the restrictions of the war years, Giovanni developed his now world-famous pâté. The inaugural pâté was of the chicken liver variety and has proven to be one of the company’s best sellers.

1949, Giovanni’s Appetizing Food Products relocated to Richmond, MI – its home ever since. The company sells throughout the United States and exports to Canada, Asia, Europe, Central America, South America, Puerto Rico, and Australia. Many of the ingredients used in Giovanni’s products come from all over the world. Giovanni’s son Philip Ricossa, and grandsons Giovanni and Philip Jr. continue to run the privately owned family business that was started by him over 70 years ago.

Giovanni’s most recent endeavor came during the polar vortex of 2014. 2 brothers (and grandsons Phil and Giovanni) decided that Michigan needed a great tasting chili for the Michigan market and these incredibly harsh Michigan winters. So Phil and Giovanni set out to develop Woodward Ave Chili. A Michigan made chili for Michiganders like us.

What makes your products special/unique

We are the only existing Mom and Pop USDA licensed cannery in the State of Michigan. I think that in itself makes everything we do here unique with respect to Michigan. Furthermore, we are focused on delivering a high quality product for exceptional value. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily have to mean low quality. I think Michiganders for the most part believe the stigma “You get what you pay for” Our aim is to change that stigma. And that is what makes Woodward Ave Chili special.

What’s the favorite part about your job.

Giving out free samples of chili to Metro Detroiters.

Where can we buy more of your products.

Currently, we are being sold in 102 retail outlets encompassing the Metro Detroit area. Please visit our website. http://www.woodwardchili.com/ Under “contact” you will find a store locator where you may enter your zip code and search for the nearest retail location to you.

What’s the best way to enjoy/eat/prepare/utilize your product.

Canned Chili? There are SO SO SO MANY ways to enjoy Woodward Ave Chili. Personally, I’m always a fan of using our No Bean Chili for Detroit Coney Dogs and chili cheese fries. However, feel free to visit http://www.woodwardchili.com/ where we’ve listed some of our favorite recipe ideas.