Eating a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time.

The entry where Val eats a Chicago-style hot dog.

Eating a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time.

I guess you can call me un-Chicagoan and probably un-American while you’re in it. You see, I am one of those people who dresses their hot dog as such:

Ballpark hot dog smothered in ketchup at a White Sox game.

Yes, yes I take a little hot dog with my ketchup.

In fact, I had only, to my recollection, ever eaten a hot dog once before that wasn’t just and only smothered in ketchup. That time was in L.A. when I went to Pink’s and got a humongousaur chili bacon cheese dog. And, in fact, I refuse to even order a hot dog in Chicago for fear of being looked down on and judged for ordering it with “just ketchup.”

Because I will be looked down on and judged, guaranteed.

The anti-ketchup thing isn’t just a Chicago thing though, it’s an American thing. But it’s pretty damned prevalent in this city. I mean, I might as well get a side of French fries instead of Freedom fries and just call it a day. While every region has a special way of topping a hot dog that makes the encased treat their own the one thing almost everyone can agree on is that if you order ketchup on a hot dog you might as well be a communist.

A Chicago-style hot dog is basically Vienna beef dog topped with a salad: mustard, onion, neon green relish, celery salt, tomato, peppers and a pickle spear. But I hate mustard. And I hate relish. And I certainly hate peppers. And, quite honestly, I just plain like ketchup. But, I suppose, you really can’t knock it ’till you try it. So I made it one of my missions for the year to, finally, after 27 years on Earth, eat a Chicago-style hot dog.

Josh and I hit up a place in Wrigleyville tonight that was recommended by his friend. A quintessential Chicago dog. We each got ourselves a hot dog (with all the trimmings), some fries, and a Coke, and dug right in…

Eating a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time.

Eating a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time.

So…it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Despite the fact that I hate all the ingredients they still kind of worked together. And despite the fact that I normally hate any crunchy plus soft combos it was completely edible. I still didn’t like the peppers because peppers burn my lip and taste all hot and sour. At least this place cut them up though; I couldn’t bite into it if they were whole. All in all, though, I ate the entire Chicago hot dog and, I guess, it was kind of tasty.

So maybe, every once in a while, maybe I’ll order myself a Chicago-style hot dog. But, who are we kidding. I’m a ketchup kind of girl.


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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Anonymous
    February 10, 2008at2:28 am

    I don’t know where it is located but I guess I am not a Chicago dog kinda guy. I like ketchup and mustard. That’s it. Unless it is chili and cheese. I like that too

  • Jen
    February 10, 2008at2:33 am

    I was a ketchup only type of girl until not long ago…then they had these little onion dispensers at the Sox game. Now I am a ketchup and onion girl.

  • heather
    February 11, 2008at7:02 am

    we are still the same person.
    i only do ketchup on dogs.
    if anyone asks, it’s a st. louis thing.

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