Chicago Hot Dogs
Toronto has a Hot Dog cart (street meat) on every corner. We have a complete subculture of tubular meat eating. Veggie, chicken and beef dogs with 20-40 toppings at a single cart. The only food and beverage outlet that outnumbers these meals on wheels is our almighty affinity for the doughnut/ coffee shop. We don’t talk about Hot Dogs much – often a quick bite on the way somewhere or, as a tried a true tradition – a late night tradition to ingest something to mop up copious amounts of alcohol sloshing in ones stomach.
Chicago also has a hot dog culture – however they are boastful of it. It’s not a subculture – it’s over the counter culture. Our Shopsy’s restaurant in Toronto had to shut down when rent went up – Chicago has more Hot Dogs restaurants than the combined number of the top 3 fast food restaurants such as Hot Dougs, SuperDawg and Portillo’s. Check out the menu at Hot Doug’s to see what I mean – this is wiener bravado at it’s fullest!
I first had one of these at a White Sox game and was introduced to the traditional toppings – onion, relish, mustard, pickle, tomato, sport peppers (I learned that this meant banana peppers), celery salt. NO KETCHUP.
Considered to be hot dog purists, the typical Chicagowegan (yes I made that term up), believes ketchup is for kids when it comes to Hot Dogs. There were hot dog vendors at Chicago food fair last year who wore shirts with ketchup bottles and a line through them declaring no ketchup for those over 12. I think their missing out.
I adore Chicago but I think I’ll take our wiener subculture over theirs (of course they win the battle of architecture by a mile!). Then again I’m a sucker for toppings, love sauce and ketchup is one of my all time favorite food groups.