What makes a classic Chicago-style Hot Dog?

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Classic Chicago-Style Hot Dog

A Hot Dog – preferably Vienna Beef, simmered in water (never boiled) until nice and hot
A Steamed Poppy Seed Bun – warm and soft
Yellow Mustard – not Dijon, not brown
Neon Green Relish – do not be afraid of the color, it’s classic
Diced Onion – sprinkle onion along the length of the dog
Sport Peppers – medium-hot, two peppers are the standard
Fresh Tomato – fit two half-wheels between the bun and the dog, skin-side out
Kosher Pickle Spear – crunchy and mild, not too thick, about the same length as the dog
A Dash of Celery Salt – without this final condiment, it would not be a Chicago Hot Dog!

Ordered like this: “I’ll have a Chicago Dog with the works.”

Wrapped up in a sheet of waxed paper. Eaten while standing at a counter. With fries.

By the way, any Chicagoan over 18 will tell you that putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is completely unacceptable. Save the ketchup for the fries. This fine specimen pictured above with their popular hand-cut fries is from Man-Jo-Vin’s on Damen near Belmont.

chicago skyline

chicago skyline

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“Chicago” by Carl Sandburg 1916

HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders;

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

20 thoughts on “What makes a classic Chicago-style Hot Dog?”

  1. I am definitely marking this for my husband. He is constantly having “Chicago-style” hot dogs in our little apartment in Connecticut. I am pretty sure they are not with all of the above ingredients. We are going to Chicago in the fall and will be in search of the ulimate hot dog. Your photos make me very excited for our trup!

  2. Beautiful photos LL, even the Chicago Dog. I’ve never had one and the ingredients don’t naturally entice but, hell, if I was there, I’d have one with ‘the works’!

  3. Extra hot peppers with mine please! My husband is a diehard Gene and Judes fan, have you been there? If you even mention the word “ketchup” you’ll be thrown out! We were there recently, planning to do a post on it. I personally love Super Dawg, I can’t resist the neon green relish, crispy crinkle fries and a fresh strawberry shake! OMG, I want it now!

    1. Ha! marie – My facebook page has old friends reminding me of our favorite hot dogs in Rogers Park. The long gone Terry’s and Paul’s Umbrella. I’m telling Don to put Gene and Judes on the list for my next visit.
      LL

  4. I was so busy eating Italian and consuming baked goods and deep dish pizza, I missed the hotdog. I shall have to devise this for a weekend when everyone is home – summer fun!

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