What Is a Chicago Hot Dog?

This frank isn’t the standard American hot dog

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Eating this hot dog could get pretty messy.

We all know the standard hot dog. It’s a requirement for baseball games, barbecues, and camping trips. Some of us like to top our dogs with ketchup, or cheese, or even more meat like bacon. But the people of Chicago have been embracing a unique array of toppings on their hot dogs for over eighty years.

The Chicago style hot dog first appeared in street carts during the Great Depression. It was a hearty and cheap meal for people who were working long days. The standard Chicago hot dog has a specific set of ingredients, but there are a few variations. The only thing that’s not negotiable is ketchup. Chicago style hot dogs never have ketchup on them. If you ask for ketchup on your Chicago dogs, some restaurants will kick you out.

The base for this delicious dog is a steamed poppy seed bun, and then you add an all-beef frank. A standard Chicago style dog has a lot of toppings. A thin dill pickle spear is placed just to the side of the wiener. Bright green relish is spread across the dog and topped with a generous drizzle of yellow mustard.

The final touches are a few tomato slices, chopped white onions and some sport peppers. After all the toppings are on, a dash of celery salt tops it all off.

A Chicago dog is a wonderland of flavors, combining sweet and salty, spicy and mild. It’s a beloved food with a rich history. We suggest you try one next time you’re in Chicago.

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