Great Green Chile Debate Rages On As Governors Trade Jabs In Hatch vs. Pueblo

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

The heated rivalry between Colorado and New Mexico is back — though a few months ahead of the fall harvest this year.

And yes, you guessed it. It’s over Hatch versus Pueblo chile.

The battle began when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis shared on Facebook that New Mexico’s Hatch chile is “inferior” to Pueblo’s on a post about Whole Foods selling Pueblo chile in the Rocky Mountain region.

Polis then told The Sante Fe New Mexican that Pueblo chile is “the best in the world.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fired back on Twitter and said, “If Pueblo chile were any good, surely it would have been on national shelves before now. But if Gov. Polis wants to go chile to chile, I assure him New Mexico can bring the heat.”

She went on to say that Hatch “will always be the greatest in the world.”

Polis tweeted back Wednesday afternoon, challenging New Mexico to a chile taste-off.

Grisham replied saying, “We dont just spell it right — we do it better! #NewMexicoTRUE”

State Rep. Nathan Small, who represents the Hatch Valley, said he was disappointed by the name-calling.

But now the heat is on and Colorado lawmakers are weighing in.

Sen. Julie Gonzales said she was qualified to answer. Her mom’s side of the family is from Colorado and her dad’s from New Mexico.

Senate President Leroy Garcia, who represents Pueblo, tweeted and said, “Sorry @GovMLG, but everyone knows #Colorado has the best green chile. Feel free to come to Pueblo and taste for yourself.”

Others have argued that Hatch is better because it’s sold more widely, unlike Pueblo’s. Hatch has a decades-long head start because New Mexico harvests more, and they have food processing facilities so their pepper can be mass-produced, said Rod Slyhoff, president of the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.

“We think it’s a great little rivalry that we have going on and, you know, it just brings attention to the whole ag industry,” he said last fall, ahead of the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival. “I would say they probably grow more than we grow, but ours are better.”

The Pueblo chile is known as mirasol or “facing the sun.” It’s different because it grows reaching for the light, rather than hanging down. Kasey Hund, manager of DiTomaso Farms, just east of Pueblo, said a Pueblo chile is “really big, meaty” and hotter than our southern neighbors’ variety.

It looks like the rivalry will continue — and we may never determine a winner. But at least now more people in the Rockies can taste Pueblo’s chile and decide for themselves which is better.