A Hot Dog By Any Other Name…

A hotdog from Nathan's. Photo by Flickr/Chrisjbarker

By Roshunda Anthony

A foray into the age-old question of who makes a better hot dog, New York or Chicago?

My boyfriend Ryan and I have a little on going debate about which hot dog is the best.  A New York Nathan’s Famous Frank or the Chicago Style hot dog?  By me being a savvy New Yorker, quite naturally I said the New York Nathan’s, but he is a boisterous young man from the “Windy City” so he says the Chicago Dog.  So, we decided to settle the score by comparing and contrasting what makes each of our beloved regional delectation the best.

I grew up on Nathan’s Famous Franks.   I have fond memories of my mom taking my brothers and me to the Nathan’s Famous Franks Restaurant in Garden City, New York.   Oh, how I remember us enjoying the robust flavorful taste of what is known as the Nathan Famous Frank.  So, when I moved to Charlotte and discovered that there is a Nathan’s located on the outskirts of Charlotte (in the Concord Mills Mall), I was elated!  A Nathan’s Frank is an all beef hot dog based on the recipe of Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker’s wife.  It is served on a basic bun and yummy toppings such as onions, ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut (my favorite) can be used to enhance the experience of eating this tasty treat, but it is the savoriness of the hotdog itself you really want to experience.

A loaded-down Chicago style hotdog. Photo by Flickr/Shanubi

Ryan thinks otherwise.  He believes that the king of all hot dogs is the Chicago Style hot dog.  The Chicago dog is described by Leah A. Zeldes author of “Eat This! The Chicago hot dog, born in the Great Depression”  as a steamed or boiled, kosher-style beef wiener that is served on a poppy seed bun and piled high with an array of condiments from traditional mustard to more outlandish (at least to this New Yorker) toppings such as tomatoes, pickles, jalapeno peppers, and celery salt.  Oh, and don’t with a capital DON’T ever, ever put ketchup on a Chicago dog.  According to Ryan that upsets die hard fans of this delight.

For me, the Chicago dog is trying to impersonate a hamburger by suffering from topping envy (chuckle), but Ryan says that it is the toppings that make the Chicago hot dog wonderful.  He says “It is just a lot of stuff in you mouth, and the flavors mixing together is just heaven on your palate.”  Granted, I have never tried a Chicago Style Dog, at least not yet because I don’t want the Nathan Frank to think I am cheating on it. On the other hand, it may be time for me to make a visit to Matt’s Chicago Dog Restaurant here in Charlotte to experience this hot dog for myself.

Whichever style dog you may prefer to indulge in , I think most people can agree, that a hot dog of any kind will bring a smile to the face of who ever partakes in it.

Eat this! The Chicago hot dog, born in the Great Depression

Of course we would be remiss if we didn't at least mention a Carolina classic, the chili and slaw dog. Photo by Flickr/frivolous_accumulation



Filed under Food, Quirky, Restaurants

10 responses to “A Hot Dog By Any Other Name…

  1. Jay Ahuja

    My wife is from Chicago and I’m from NY, so we have a similar debate about hot dogs and pizza. Thanks for a fantastic reminder of the differences that bring us together. You made me crave hot dogs (plural) from both NY and Chicago.

    Well done!

  2. Bryan

    I prefer NY style hot dogs and pizza.
    My favorite hot dog has catchup and chopped onions on it.

  3. Heather

    Hey Roshunda,

    Great article! I’m partial to the New York hot dogs too! I’m willing to try the Chi town hot dog at least once.

  4. I hate to break it to you, but the Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are actually manufactured in Chicago. http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/food/5870444-423/hot-dog-makers-around-town.html

  5. silvia

    Two days before my big move to Charlotte, I had a farewell to Long Island by indulging in Nathan’s Famous Franks in Long Beach,, New York. It was our ritual, Harley Davidson Tuesday, year round. Chicago is my favorite city in the country, and just like Nathan’s, they rule the deep dish pizza world. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  6. Renee Zemlock

    I’m from WI and we will almost always pick a beer brat off the grill over a hotdog any day. ^_^

  7. Bill Lynch

    I agree with Renee – hot dogs are the minor league when compared to brats.

  8. Pebbles

    If it’s a Chicago dog, it must be a Vienna Beef! Matt’s is the best dog I’ve found in Charlotte. This American Life had an episode devoted to the new Vienna Beef factory a few years back. Ketchup is for barbarians and should never be served on a Chicago dog. IMO it shouldn’t be served anywhere, worst condiment ever! Mustard FTW!

  9. Pebbles

    Renee, have you tried Grateful Growers brats? They’re really good!

  10. Ryan

    Great article!! Chicago hotdogs are the best!!!

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