America loves hot dogs! So much so, that we not only have a National Hot Dog Day, we have a National Hot Dog Month! And we couldn’t be happier. Nothing says summer in Chicago like a great hot dog at a White Sox ballgame. And in a city with more hot dog stands than all the fast food chains combined, we know our hot dogs.
The history of the Chicago hot dog is as diverse as the cultural history of Chicago itself. The iconic Chicago-style dog we know today rose to popularity as a humble street cart hot dog, said to be “dragged through the garden” with an assortment of toppings as an inexpensive meal during the Great Depression. But the Chicago dog really owes its popularity to the waves of immigrants who came to Chicago in the late 1800s.
As the story goes, immigrants from Germany brought frankfurters and mustard when they arrived in the Midwest; Jewish street vendors translated frankfurters into kosher all-beef hot dogs, which later became famous as Vienna Beef hot dogs named by Austrian-Hungarian immigrants who sold their hot dogs at the Columbia Exposition. Polish bakers created the poppy seed bun, the Greek community added fresh tomatoes and onions, Czechs added the iconic bright green pickle relish, Italians added sport peppers, German Jews added pickles, and celery salt was a nod to the Midwest popularity of celery at the time, creating the cross-cultural Chicago dog we know today.
Nothing is more cross-cultural than food. Whether we are enjoying the multicultural heritage of a Chicago-style hot dog or creating menu items that connect with the new America, PACO Culinary is excited about the possibilities. Maybe my next hot dog in honor of National Hot Dog Month will be a Korean kimchi hot dog with Asian mustard, gochujang ketchup and kimchi relish.
If you like this, you may like our other blogs. Click here for more resources.