Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chicago Hot Dog Details

So What Exactly is a Chicago Style Hot Dog?

Before we explain what a Chicago Dog is and what makes it so special, let's take quick look at what a Hot Dog is. If you look up the definition of "Hot Dog", you will generally see the following:

hot dog or hot·dog (hot'dôg', -dog')

A frankfurter, especially one served hot in a long soft roll. Also called red-hot.
A type of cooked meat in the shape of a sausage; it is usually served in a long bun. 
One who performs showy, often dangerous stunts, in order to attract attention

A Dog With a Difference
A Chicago Style Hot Dog is more than just a Hot Dog; it's a taste sensation with the perfect blend of toppings. So, what exactly is a Chicago Dog? A Chicago Style Hot Dog is a steamed all beef Hot Dog topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear or slice, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt served in the all-important steamed poppyseed bun.

The toppings are just as important as the order they are applied to the Hot Dog. Add toppings in the following order:

Yellow Mustard
Bright Green Relish
Fresh Chopped Onions
Two Tomato Wedges
A Pickle Spear or Slice
Two Sport Peppers
A Dash of Celery Salt
Remember: When adding toppings, dress the dog and not the bun!

Why is the placement of the toppings so important? If your Chicago Dog has been made properly, you will get a taste of each ingredient in every bite.

A Chicago Style Hot Dog is never boiled, but slowly simmered using steam heat until the hot dog reaches approximately 170-180 degrees. Although steam is the preferred method to heat the Hot Dog, grilling, heating in water or using the microwave are also acceptable. Since Hot Dogs are pre-cooked all you need to do is heat the dog.

Fluky's (a Chicago institution since 1929) provides these instructions for heating your Hot Dogs: Bring the water to a boil, turn the water down until it stops boiling, or a slight simmer. (DO NOT COOK HOT DOGS IN BOILING WATER). Place desired number of hot dogs into water and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.

Vienna® Beef Hot Dogs are probably the best tasting dogs you will ever experience. Over 80% of hot dog street vendors in Chicago proudly serve Vienna® Beef Hot Dogs.

Where's the Ketchup?
As mentioned earlier, the toppings are just as important as the Hot Dog itself. If you look at the required toppings for a Chicago Dog, you will notice that Ketchup is not listed among them. Ketchup is an ingredient frowned upon by Hot Dog aficionados. Although ketchup remains one of the most popular condiments on Hot Dogs, "properly made" Hot Dogs, like the Chicago Style, usually lack the condiment.

Those who consider themselves Hot Dog connoisseurs are often vehemently opposed to eating (or even witnessing) Hot Dogs with ketchup; they think the flavor of ketchup overpowers and destroys the taste of the Hot Dog instead of complementing it. Nowhere is this difference in opinion more apparent than in Chicago.

The inclusion of ketchup on a Chicago Style Hot Dog is a controversial issue. Most adult Chicagoans will shun ketchup. Chicago Hot Dog stands will not, as a rule, put ketchup on a Chicago Dog. Some stands will provide ketchup although you are responsible for defacing your Dog.

"You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It's watching you stuff your face with those Hot Dogs! Nobody - I mean nobody puts ketchup on a Hot Dog!".  - This is a famous line from the movie Sudden Impact starring Clint Eastwood.

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, in its recommendations for proper Hot Dog Etiquette capitulate only slightly to the public's general regard for ketchup, saying "Don't use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.". 

Learn the Lingo
"The Works" - When ordering a Chicago Style Hot Dog it is important to understand the terminology. Probably the most important word is "works". For example, the proper way to order your Dog is to say, "I'll take a Chicago Dog with the works". First of all, it is important to say "Chicago Dog" when placing your order. This sends a clear message that you want an all beef Hot Dog served on a steamed poppyseed bun. When you say " with the works" you are saying that you want "everything" (yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt) on your Dog.
Tip: When it is your turn to order you better have an idea of what you want.  Hot Dog establishments are usually very crowded and very fast paced. The person behind the counter expects you to know what you want. If you are not ready, let the person behind you place their order first.

"Snap" - When biting into an all beef Hot Dog, there should be slight resistance from the casing. The resistance is referred to as the "snap". For example, "it has the nice 'snap'.". Next time you have a Chicago Dog, impress your friends and family by taking a bite and commenting on the "snap".

"Dragged Through the Garden" - Chicago Dogs are sometimes described this way because of all the vegetables.

Don't be too concerned about the appearance of the place you get your Dog from. For me the ambiance is important and contributes to the overall Chicago Dog experience. Some of the best Hot Dog joints are probably considered "dives" by most people's standards. Don't expect a typical sit-down restaurant with a well-appointed interior and full menu. Many don't even have any place to sit while other places are not much more than an order counter and some stools to sit on (the round ones are my favorite). Typically, there is always a deal that includes fries and a drink. Fries complete the package.

We should mention that you should also try a Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwich. If they have great Dogs, they should have great Italian Beefs.

Give Us a Sign!
One thing for sure in the Hot Dog business is brand loyalty. Places that serve Chicago Style Hot Dogs are proud of the brand they sell and that should be apparent (in most cases) even before you walk through the door. If there are no signs on the outside indicating the Hot Dog brand served, there had better be some indication on the inside. Be skeptical of any place that claims to serve a Chicago Dog and gives no indication of their brand affiliation.

The Cart Experience
Nothing compares to getting your dog from a Hot Dog cart. There is something special about the Hot Dog stand that creates an indescribable feeling of intrigue. Even people who don't usually eat Hot Dogs can't resist the urge to eat one when they see a Hot Dog cart. I think that Louie DiRaimondo, president of All American Hot Dog Carts in Miami, said it best when talking about the carts they sell: "We create an experience, not just a product". That is so true!

Relish Your Dog
Next to the Dog itself, the most important ingredient of a Chicago Style Dog is the Relish. It is certainly the topping that either makes or breaks your Dog. Classic Chicago Dogs are famous for their bright green relish. Although standard relish can be used, nothing compares to the taste and look of the neon colored green relish. The neon green relish was introduced in the early 1970s by Fluky’s, an original west side Hot Dog vendor

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Saturday, March 13, 2010


Fluky's first started in 1929 on Maxwell and Halsted Streets in Chicago. We carried all the character and romance for which Chicago Street Merchants were famous, and Fluky's reputation as having the best "Hot Dog" in the city started to grow.

In 1932, a second Fluky's was opened, and then in 1935, a third and a fourth in 1936. Fluky's became known for its "Depression Sandwich" - a Hot Dog with mustard, relish, onion, pickles, pepper, lettuce, tomatoes and french fries FOR ONLY $.05!

Fluky's reputation was built on good food, good service and good will through the hard times of the depression. Many youngsters - and adults, too - who didn't have the $.05 were fed anyway.

With the coming of World War II came meat rationing. This made it difficult to get the quality product Fluky's needed, and within a short time, Fluky's closed its doors at three of its locations and the fourth was the only store that was to continue until 1955.

On February 18, 1964 Fluky's again opened its doors, after 9 years of silence. The opening was greeted with a tremendous outpouring of warmth and fondness from thousands who had many fond memories.

In just a few months, Fluky's was the largest Hot Dog stand in the Chicago area. Except Fluky's was no longer a Hot Dog Stand. It was now housed in a large glass-enclosed structure, previously unknown to the Hot Dog industry. Fluky's had made a giant step toward upgrading the Hot Dog business.

On November 2, 1978, a more progressive move was made, and Fluky's brought the Hot Dog into the fast food industry. A new building was purchased, and a beautiful, new, refreshing look for an old and well established business was introduced
Fluky's Locations

1038 Weiland Road
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

3333 W Touhy Ave
Lincolnwood Town Center
847.677.9945 Fax