The Chicago hot dog — nothing else compares.
The magic happens and tastes combine between the halves of a steamed, poppy-seed bun. The initial sharp bite of diced white onion and yellow mustard is calmed by a fresh tomato wedge and a sprinkling bright-green sweet pickled relish. Subsequently, the glorious “snap” occurs as you break the casing of the Vienna hotdog. The pinch of celery salt and mighty sport peppers pack a big bang, leaving you craving another bite.
Today, places across Chicago such as Jimmy’s Red Hots, Portillo’s and the recently shuttered Hot Doug’s have drawn crowds for the famous, ketchup-free dogs.
But how did something so perfect come about?
While the hot dog has been around since the 1800s — when German and Austrian immigrants began selling them from street carts — the Windy City’s famous frankfurters came to life during the Great Depression.
It has been reported that the Chicago-dog was created by a jobless teenager named Jake “Fluky” Drexler. Jake transformed a vegetable cart into a hot dog stand – adding toppings that became known as “dragging it through the garden.” His selected veggies representing different cultures — sport peppers for Italians, mustard for Germans, tomato for Mediterraneans.
This five-cent “depression sandwich” sparked a craze that’s still part of the city’s culture today.
Here are just a few spots to try the city’s famous dogs this summer.
Gene and Jude’s
2720 River Road, River Grove
Simple ingredients and quality meat topped with fries has turned these Chicago dogs into a fan favorite since 1946.
804 Rush St., Chicago
Stop by for a true Chicago hot dog — never topped with ketchup! The dog spot claims to have the best char dog on the Magnificent Mile.
185 N. Franklin St., Chicago
This restaurant specializes in hot dogs, but encourages diners to try a variety of menu items.
Fatsos Last Stand
2258 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
This stand has evolved to becomes Chicago’s neighborhood snack bar. It’s open all day and late into the night, letting you indulge your dog cravings at almost any time.