Why Is Hatch Chile Still More Popular In Colorado Than Pueblo Chile?

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Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
Joe DiTomaso, a fourth generation worker at DiTomaso Farms in Pueblo, holds freshly picked Pueblo chiles, Sept. 20, 2018.

In Southern Colorado, the locals obsess over Pueblo-grown chile. There's even an annual festival in the spicy peppers' honor.

But one Colorado native, Brad Lee Hines, wondered why the rest of the Centennial State doesn't carry that red-hot passion. Why do kiosks offer roasted green chile proudly made from New Mexican Hatch chile, instead of the ones grown in-state? Hines dropped a line to CPR's Colorado Wonders project.

Journalist Gustavo Arellano used to write a column in Westword called "Ask A Mexican," and he's the author of "TACO USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America." Arellano walked Colorado Matters through the differences between Hatch and Pueblo chile.

The two peppers grow very differently. Pueblo's Mirasol chile, literally meaning "looking at the sun," grow upward toward the sunlight. Hatch chile hangs downward. Both peppers are hot, but Arellano said he prefers the distinct, citrus-y flavor of the Mirasol.

Hatch chiles have such a hold on the Colorado market because they have a decades-long head start. They're grown in larger batches and are bred to have a uniform flavor. But Pueblo's Mirasol is catching up with the creation of the Pueblo Chile Growers Association in 2015.