There are few rules for hot dogs in Chicago—except for the big one: no ketchup!
Whether you like your 'dog plain with a smidge of mustard or Chicago style (an all-beef frankfurter on a poppyseed bun with mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt), there are many ways to celebrate the city's favorite food. Especially on July 17—officially designated National Hot Dog Day. While the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that U.S. eaters will devour 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, a good percentage of that could come from this city alone with these special events celebrating Chicago's very own.
A Whole Hot Dog Week
Rather than just celebrate hot dogs on one day, Public House devotes a whole week to the main event. From July 15 to July 21, the River North restaurant will offer three creative takes on its "Hot Dog Week" menu, including the Texas Dog, made with monterey jack cheese and jalapeño; the Tijuana Danger Dog, wrapped in bacon and topped with fried shallots, mayo, mustard, ketchup and grilled jalapeños; and the Crab Mac N' Cheese Dog that includes loads of lump crab meat and mac n' cheese with Old Bay seasoning and red cherry peppers. All of these specialty dogs are $13 each or get the “Hot Dog Board" and try one of each for $30.
Free Delivery (and a T-shirt)
Few Chicago brands are as iconic for hot dogs as Portillo's. To celebrate the big day this year, this beloved chain will offer free delivery at all locations on orders of at least $10 placed on the restaurant's website, valid July 15-21—so there's no excuse not to eat up! At the same time, Portillo’s is also launching its 1963 apparel line, delivering colorful prints on a variety of apparel showcasing fan-favorites like the Portillo’s Famous Chocolate Cake, crispy French fries, char-grilled cheeseburger, iconic hot dog and cake shake. The clothing line offers adult and youth sizing. Shop here.
Enjoy It With Your Dog
Celebrate your favorite food with your best dog friend at locations like Superdawg. This retro-themed drive-in first opened in 1948 and offers dog-friendly outdoor umbrella tables and benches in a kitschy vintage setting. Enjoy your Chicago style 'dog with a malt and throw your furry friend some fries and then walk it off with a stroll through Caldwell Woods across the street.
Get prepped for Hot Dog Day with a few frankenfurther facts ...
• If you ask for ketchup in Chicago, many vendors won’t even serve it to you. Ask for it at the Weiner’s Circle, in Lincoln Park, where insults are part of the menu, and expect a tongue-lashing.
• Many say that the “Chicago-Style” hot dog came around during the Depression when street vendors would slice up leftover vegetables and pile them all on top of the bun, promoting it as a full meal.
• Though German immigrants were thriving in Chicago as early as the 1840s are the ones largely responsible for introducing their culture’s frankfurter to the city, it’s said that the debut of the red hot was done by two Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary, Samuel Ladany and Emil Reichl, who made the grand introduction at the World’s Fair in 1893 and then opened their first Vienna Beef store the same year.
• To celebrate their 125th anniversary in 2018, Vienna Beef opened a fully-fledged Hot Dog Museum in Chicago; find it at 2501 N. Damen.