When you think of symbols of Chicago, what do you think of? Is it the Sears Tower, the Bean, Wrigley Field, and deep-dish pizza? Or do you think of the Chicago Hot Dog? Some may argue that there is no greater symbol of the city than it’s hot dog. 

The Chicago Hot Dog is no ordinary hot dog. The masterpiece is constructed with a poppy-seed bun, all-beef frank, yellow mustard, chopped white onion, tomato, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt. 

Sounds like a mouthful right? Notice, however, that there is no ketchup on the Chicago Hot Dog. Be aware of this if you’re new or visiting Chicago. Ketchup isn’t a condiment that the city takes lightly. In fact, most hot dog places don’t even carry it in stock. Bottom line is, if you’re in Chicago, ketchup doesn’t belong on your hot dog. 

The Chicago Hot Dog has been around for decades. Back in the 1840s, German immigrants began to come to the Midwest, populating farmlands and industrial cities. It was them that brought a taste of home with them in the form of sausages, in particular, the frankfurter. 

The frankfurter was a tasty dish that every Chicagoan loved and was a perfect industrial food item. This helped Chicago become the meatpacking capital of the world. Chicago’s oldest hot dog brand, David Berg, was founded in 1860 and national brands like Armour and Oscar Meyer soon followed. 

By the end of the century, the frankfurter was commonplace. However, we’re still missing one important ingredient to the Chicago Hot Dog. Coming from poor-socio economic backgrounds, many Jewish immigrants took up jobs as street vendors. The hot dog cart gave these immigrants a way to support their families and make a living. 

The origin of the Chicago Hot Dog can be dated back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. All the toppings on the hot dog provided Chicagoans with calories and nutrition for not a lot of money. If you had a nickel, you could get a Chicago Hot Dog. 

Hot dogs were the perfect meal for the people of Chicago. The city was known as a working-class city and hot dog stands could be found all across the city, providing factory workers and road crews a fast and cheap meal. 

At the time, Chicago was a city full of immigrants that was trying to find its identity and the hot dog was at the center of that identity. 

Today the Chicago Hot Dog is still as popular as it once was. Walk the streets of the city and you’ll see hot dog joints and people enjoying the delish dish all over.

Trust Tommy’s Red Hots to cater your next special event. With 6 different locations, we have been serving Illinois for 40 years with delicious meals for every occasion. Visit our website to find a location near you, or our contact form to request more information.

Sources
https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/illinois/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-chicago-style-hot-dog-2/

https://blockclubchicago.org/2018/07/18/a-short-history-of-chicago-style-hot-dogs-and-why-we-love-them-so-much/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/chicago/a-history-of-the-chicago-style-hot-dog