lafave (lafave) wrote in octodogs,

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I demand you eat a chicago-style hot dog today!

Chicago-style hot dogs are taking over the nation.

Wienerschnitzel, the nation's largest hot dog chain, has introduced the "Chicago Dog," an all-beef number in a steamed poppyseed bun with all the requisite trimmings -- mustard, neon green relish, onion, tomato, a pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt.

The $1.99 dog is being sold at more than 350 Wienerschnitzel stores in the West and Southwest, and even in Guam.

It is possible to find Chicago-style dogs outside of Chicago, though some might argue that puts the authenticity of said dog in question.

Wienerschnitzel, based in Newport Beach, Calif., is known for its chili dogs.

Company executives had reservations about whether a Chicago dog would sell because they weren't sure if Californians even knew what one was, said Lowry Hughes, vice president of operations for Galardi Group, Wienerschnitzel's parent company.

The company quelled its fears by e-mailing a survey to customers to gauge their interest in the dressed-up dog.

"There are some fanatics about Chicago dogs," Wienerschnitzel advertising rep Doug Koegeboehn said.

To make sure they got it right before adding it to the menu in June, Hughes sampled the goods of hot dog mainstays such as Portillo's while in Chicago in May for the National Restaurant Show.

The chain is selling about 40 Chicago dogs a day per store, paltry compared with the 500 chili dogs a day average, but "we're real happy," Hughes said.

Bruce Kraig, president of the Culinary Historians of Chicago and Roosevelt University historian, says he has noticed the growing popularity of Chicago dogs.

"I've seen Chicago-style hot dogs in Nashville," he said.

The origin of the Chicago-style hot dog is a bit murky.

Kraig said the "garden on a bun" was the creation of Greek street vendors in Chicago in the 1920s trying to get an edge on Italian vendors, their main competition.

But Peter Sload, director of marketing for Chicago-based Vienna Beef, contends Vienna's founders introduced it at the World's Fair and Colombian Exposition of 1893.

Most agree a true Chicago-style hot dog these days is a Vienna Beef frank in a poppyseed bun, dressed appropriately.

Sload was somewhat disappointed to hear that Wienerschnitzel's wiener is not a Vienna product, but rather their own frank made from a proprietary recipe.

"If they're not offering it that way, it's not a true Chicago-style dog," Sload said.

Spoken like a true Chicagoan.


On July 5, Nightline featured all american summer things: baseball, apple pie, and HOT DOGS - I can't find an online transcript of the show - they gave a little history of the modern miracle that is the hot dog, and mentioned that Chicago had the most hot dog restaurants in the nation (perhaps due to its proximity to Vienna Beef) with approximately 3000. Perhaps an Octodog trip to the Windy City would be in order sometime. After all, how can you call yourself a hot dog fanatic if you haven't been to the hot dog capital of America!
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