5 Facts You Never Knew About Chicago Hot Dogs

Before you bite into a Chicago hot dog, there are a few things you need to know.

From barbecues to baseball games, you can find hot dogs in just about any corner of America. Check out your region’s fave hot dog style! But Chicago takes franks to the next level by loading on the toppings to satisfy hearty Midwestern appetites. How much do you know about these banquets on a bun?

What’s a Chicago Dog, Anyway?

The quintessential Chicago dog starts with a Vienna Beef or Red Hot dog placed in a steamed S. Rosen’s poppy seed bun. Then it’s “dragged through the garden” with toppings applied in the following order: yellow mustard, neon green pickle relish, chopped raw white onion, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt.

Here are a few fun facts about the Windy City’s favorite hot dog:

1. Vienna Beef started with a hot dog cart.

Immigrants Samuel Landany and his brother-in-law Emil Reichel learned to make sausages in Vienna before coming to Chicago in 1890. Seeing an opportunity, they set up a cart near the entrance to the midway at the Chicago World’s Fair/Columbian Exhibition in 1893. The duo sold enough sausages to open a store. The grand opening of Vienna Sausage Co. came in 1894, just one year after the World’s Fair. You can cook these popular state fair foods at home!

2. There’s a reason Chicago hot dogs are all-beef.

Samuel Ladany and Emil Reichel were Jewish, so their recipe is pure beef—no pork. Today Vienna Beef and its offspring, Red Hot, are the two primary suppliers of hot dogs in the Chicago area. Our top hot dog picks are also all-beef.

3. Chicago hot dogs are a treat for the tastebuds.

The toppings are said to convey five flavor profiles: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami or savory. So a Chicago hot dog checks every box on your tasty checklist! Are you hungry yet? Try these other delicious foods from Illinois.

4. Just say no to one popular condiment.

The only topping never used on a Chicago hot dog is ketchup. Don’t ask why. It just goes against tradition in the Windy City. Here are the best hot dog toppings you haven’t tasted yet.

5. Hot dogs are big business.

In Chicago, there are more hot dog stands than McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s locations combined. It’s pretty clear that weiners (which are definitely not sandwiches) are the top dog for hungry residents in this city. Speaking of which, learn what the most popular sandwich is in your state.

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Originally Published in Reminisce

Lori Vanover
Lori has been a writer and editor for 16 years, fueled by plenty of coffee and chocolate. She hopes to retire someday and become a hot pepper farmer, cake decorator or barbecue pitmaster.