Why You'll Never See Ketchup On A Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Chicago-style hot dogs
Chicago-style hot dogs - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

If you ever decide to make a trip to the city of Chicago, you'll find yourself flanked on all sides by food. Deep dish pizza, Italian beef, and countless other classics are far aplenty. Hot dogs are a fairly ubiquitous food, but the sausages are seldom as complicated as they are in Chicago. A Chicago hot dog is covered in a specific selection of toppings: onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, mustard, relish, celery salt, and a solitary pickle spear.

However, despite this well-dressed dog's outlandish outfit, one topping is noticeably absent. In Chicago, you'll be hard-pressed to find a dog doused in ketchup. The city's unofficial prohibition on the condiment is well known, and certain Chicagoans defend it to the death. The rule seems to mainly be a source of local pride, but others believe ketchup is redundant atop a Chicago dog, where sources of sweetness, acidity, and spice can already be found.

Read more: 11 Tips For Keeping Your Grill Shiny And Clean

The Taste Of Chicago-Style Toppings

Chicago dog covered in mustard
Chicago dog covered in mustard - Veselovaelena/Getty Images

To assemble a Chicago-style hot dog correctly, you need to include a slew of foods that balance all of those funky flavors. Sweetness comes from the tomatoes, along with the garish green relish that decorates these dogs. A pickle spear and pickled sport peppers add acid to the mix; said peppers also pair with celery salt to give the dog some spice. Ketchup imparts the same three elements of flavor all of those toppings inherently contain, so one could argue that adding this condiment to a Chicago-style hotdog is wholly unnecessary.

Ultimately, those who stand firmly on the anti-ketchup side of the spectrum believe the condiment can dominate the flavor of a hot dog. Given the care that goes into crafting a Chicago-style hot dog, it makes sense why you might want to let the toppings sing. It has been theorized that the ketchup aversion originated at the ballpark, where unrefrigerated and sugary ketchup attracted flies. (However, because flies can be found anywhere, this hypothesis cannot explain how the condiment's prohibition became a regional rule.) The city's anti-ketchup sentiment as it exists today seems to primarily be a source of local pride, but there is inarguably merit to the notion that ketchup can overtake a dog's taste.

Chicago Culture Of Ketchup Critique

pouring ketchup bottle
pouring ketchup bottle - Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

Though breaking Chicago's unofficial prohibition against ketchup isn't actually a legal offense, a certain sausage organization forbids putting ketchup on hot dogs. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council's official stance states a person shouldn't use the tomato topping after turning 18. The council may allow folks to use ketchup until adulthood, but some Chicago citizens have an even more harsh take on the traditional topping rule. Former President Barack Obama is less forgiving by a wide margin, as he believes you should chuck the childish condiment before the age of eight.

In 2017, Heinz tried to woo Chicagoans to put ketchup on their hot dogs. They condiment company began bottling ketchup in containers labeled "Chicago Dog Sauce," though these blue bins actually dispensed regular ketchup. In doing this, Heinz seemed to suggest the ketchup prohibition is simply a bit of local lore and not an aversion based on culinary considerations.

Read the original article on Daily Meal