From the Editor's Desk

From the Editor’s Desk: The Chicago Dog is More Than A Delicacy — It Represents What Chicago is All About

Jeremy Keith | FlickrThe Chicago dog — consisting of a frank, yellow mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, pickle spear, tomatoes, sport peppers and celery salt represent Chicago’s fascinating history and ethnic makeup, as I learned in a Loyola class.

If anyone knows me personally, they would know I’m a big Major League Baseball fan. I grew up going to dozens of Rockies games every season and eating lots of traditional hot dogs.

But it wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I tried a Chicago dog. I’d been eating them with just ketchup all the years before — yes, I know, I’m embarrassed about it.

Three years into living in this city, the Chicago dog has become one of my favorite foods. As my Phoenix biography reads, I’m on a quest to find the best one in the city. So far, the verdict is the Portillos chain or The Wiener’s Circle (2622 N. Clark St.).

I’m always looking for recommendations on places to try Chicago dogs, so shoot me an email at phoenixeic@luc.edu if you can top either of these. 

But the Chicago dog — which got its start during the Great Depression when people were looking for a cheap meal — has so much more significance to this city than just its deliciousness. The frank, yellow mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, pickle spear, tomatoes, sport peppers and celery salt represent Chicago’s fascinating history and ethnic makeup.

In an anthropology class I took my sophomore year at Loyola, our professor dedicated a lesson to the globalization surrounding the Chicago dog. He listed the cultural influences of each ingredient and how they came together to form the culinary masterpiece here in Chicago. 

According to my professor, some of the hot dog’s influences were likely Central European, including the hot dog, mustard, onions, pickle, bun and celery salt, which makes sense, due to Chicago’s large Polish and other Central European immigrant populations. The use of tomatoes likely came from Italy, which also has a decently-sized population in Chicago and the sport peppers were listed as having possibly had Greek, African-American, Latino or Italian influences.

This lesson always stuck with me because it reminded me how lucky I am to live in such a diverse and historical city with such great food. 

Let’s just say that class also made me really hungry.

This week in News, find a story on how Loyola suspended all its study abroad programs through spring 2021 and a piece on how Rogers Park residents are changing up their plans for Halloween through the pandemic. 

In Opinion, a call on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day as a holiday.

In A&E, find a feature on The New 400 Theater and its offerings through COVID-19 and a 60th anniversary review on classic horror movie “Psycho.”

In Sports, read about how former Loyola Men’s Basketball Player Ben Richardson signed with a Swiss team and a column on how being a sports fan has gotten one of our sports editors through the pandemic.

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