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The Chicago Hotdog: An abomination on a bun

Public domain image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Chicago is known for many things: the Chicago Cubs, gangsters, the lakefront, the Chicago Cubs, its many parks, the annual springtime pothole slalom, the Chicago Cubs and, oh yeah, the Chicago Cubs. 

Less well known, it you don’t live here as I have for over 50 years, is the Chicago Hotdog. What makes a hotdog a Chicago Hotdog? Mainly a bunch of people who can’t resist the temptation to tell others how to live their lives. That, and the following ingredients:

  • An all-beef hotdog
  • A sesame seed bun
  • Yellow mustard 
  • Chopped onions, white
  • Bright green sweet pickle relish
  • A dill pickle spear
  • Tomato (slices or wedges) 
  • Pickled sports peppers 
  • Celery salt
  • The complete absence of ketchup. 

Some refer to it as “dragging it through the garden.” I think the compost pile is a bit better of an analogy. 

OK, all-beef hotdogs are the best. That’s a given. And I do like sesame seeds on my bun but the guy who gave me my last colonoscopy told me to eliminate them or, at least, cut back. 

I believe that yellow mustard, possibly all mustard, was created by Satan himself. I refuse to touch the stuff. 

The chopped onions are OK. Sometimes I put them on my hotdog, usually I don’t. 

Bright green sweet pickle relish comes from the toxic waste dumps of New Jersey. The Russians use it to poison enemy agents. 

Dill pickle spears are good but often slide out of the bun. Not a big deal. It can be dealt with. I usually eat them separately. 

Sometimes I’ll put tomatoes on a hotdog but it’s not necessary. If I do, they’re chopped so they have a better chance of making it to my mouth than my lap. 

Pickled sport peppers, yes. Actually any hot pepper. The more the merrier. Bring on the burn!

Who puts celery salt on anything? I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding celery. Why would I use it on purpose? 

Ketchup, wonderful ketchup. Load it on. If you don’t like it, deal with it. I don’t try to force you to to use it, don’t try to stop me. I don’t care what you think. Butt out of my culinary experience. And for a real treat, add some hot sauce. And don’t forget the ketchup for the fries. Or go ahead, put your beloved mustard on them for all I care. 

Text © 2018 Gary J Sibio. All rights reserved. 

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Written by Gary J Sibio

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  1. Hmm…I *like* homemade mustard. Store-bought yellow mustard isn’t much more than vinegar, turmeric for color, and just enough mustard powder the give a slight flavor. With homemade, it is honestly ground mustard in a vinegar base and if black mustard seeds are used, it can sizzle enough to bring tears to the eyes. (It CAN be made blander.)

    I also like sweet relish, but prefer the kind made from zucchinis rather than cucumbers. That normally means homemade. With both my wife and daughter on diets, I’m the only one who gets to eat hot dogs, though. The good part of that is that I get to load them up with chopped onions and dragon cayennes. (I’m also the only one in the house who will eat peppers with more zing than bell peppers, unless I “tame” them.)

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