Is Chicago known for its hot dogs?

Introduction: Chicago’s Food Scene

Chicago is known for its diverse and unique food scene, from deep-dish pizza to Italian beef sandwiches. However, one iconic dish that stands out in the city’s culinary history is the Chicago-style hot dog. This beloved dish has become a staple in Chicago’s food culture, and visitors to the city often make it a priority to try one.

What Are Chicago-Style Hot Dogs?

A Chicago-style hot dog is a beef hot dog on a poppy seed bun topped with yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. It is a complete meal in a bun, with a unique combination of flavors and textures that make it stand out from other types of hot dogs.

The Origins of Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

The origin of the Chicago-style hot dog is unclear, but it is believed to have been created in the 1920s by street vendors who sold hot dogs to workers in the city’s meatpacking industry. The toppings were added to make the hot dog more filling and flavorful, and it quickly became a popular dish among Chicagoans.

The Anatomy of a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

The key to a true Chicago-style hot dog is the combination of toppings. The hot dog itself is made of beef and typically has a natural casing, which provides a snap when you bite into it. The bun is steamed and has poppy seeds on top. The toppings are placed on the hot dog in a specific order: yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt.

How to Order a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

When ordering a Chicago-style hot dog, it is important to specify that you want it "dragged through the garden," which means with all the toppings. You can also ask for it "charred" or "well-done," which means the hot dog will be grilled for a little longer for added flavor.

The Best Places to Get a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

There are many places in Chicago to get a good Chicago-style hot dog, but some of the best-known spots include Portillo’s, Superdawg, and Gene & Jude’s. These establishments have been serving up classic Chicago-style hot dogs for decades and have become institutions in their own right.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs vs. Other Hot Dogs

Chicago-style hot dogs are unique in their combination of toppings and flavors. Many other regions have their own version of a hot dog, but none quite like the Chicago-style hot dog. The closest might be the Detroit-style Coney dog, which features chili and onions, but it still doesn’t have the same distinct flavor profile.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs Around the World

Chicago-style hot dogs have become so iconic that they can now be found in other parts of the world. In London, the restaurant chain Bubbledogs serves a version of the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Sydney, Australia, the restaurant Plan B serves a "Chicago-style" hot dog with chili con carne and cheese.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs in Pop Culture

The Chicago-style hot dog has made appearances in popular culture throughout the years. In the movie "The Blues Brothers," Jake and Elwood stop at a hot dog stand for a quick meal. The hot dog is also featured in the TV show "Shameless," where it is a favorite of the Gallagher family.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs and Sports

Chicago-style hot dogs have become synonymous with Chicago sports culture, especially with the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Both teams have their own versions of the Chicago-style hot dog at their ballparks, and fans can often be seen enjoying one while watching a game.

Conclusion: Chicago’s Love for Hot Dogs

The Chicago-style hot dog is more than just a food item in Chicago; it is a part of the city’s identity. It has been enjoyed by generations of Chicagoans and has become a symbol of the city’s culinary heritage. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, trying a Chicago-style hot dog is a must-do when in the city.

Bonus: Make Your Own Chicago-Style Hot Dog at Home

If you can’t make it to Chicago to try a hot dog, you can still enjoy a Chicago-style hot dog at home. All you need is a beef hot dog, a poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and celery salt. Follow the order of toppings, and you’ll have a taste of Chicago in your own kitchen.

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Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

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