My Condiments to the Chef. And Kevin Pang


This morning, Kevin Pang of the Chicago Tribune posted a story about Chicago’s distaste of ketchup (read it here)

I do not know Kevin, nor he, me. But I love him. I love him for taking a stand, for speaking out, for daring to take on the Chicago Machine and bring them down a peg or two.

This is a topic of great aggravation for me. If you don’t know what the fuss is about, Chicago restaurateurs are known for being anti-ketchup. Some even have signs warning patrons of the dangers of even asking for ketchup for their hot dogs. Why? I don’t really know, other than a simple case of food snobbery.

Don’t get me wrong, Chicago has some valid reasons for defending its culinary excellence. But hot dogs aren’t one of them. We have the world’s best pizza. The Italian Beef sandwich, when done correctly, has no peer in the USA. If I ever saw someone try to put ketchup on their Italian Beef, I’d sprint to their table and Rick Monday that sucker right out of their hands. But hot dogs? No, hot dogs are hot dogs. Didn’t like the one you had for lunch? You can get another one for $1 tomorrow. I’ve grown rather weary of listening to the City of Broad Shoulders rave about how special their encased meats are. Granted, the poppy-seed buns are nice, and the topping selection, if you’re into those sorts of things (no thanks. Seriously, what the heck is a “sport pepper”?) is unrivaled. But has anyone considered that all those options might be a thinly-veiled attempt to cover up the fact that IT’S JUST A HOT DOG??

I love the reasons people give for their anti-ketchupness.  One person in Kevin’s article claims:

It’s like getting a rib-eye at a steakhouse and pouring a whole bottle of Worcestershire sauce over that beautiful cut of meat.

No, it’s not like that at all. No one would put a whole bottle of anything on anything. And no one puts a whole bottle of ketchup on their hot dog. Please, I’ve told you a thousand times, if you have to resort to ridiculous exaggerations, you have no case(ing) {see what I did there}.

Honestly, I don’t even like ketchup on my hot dogs. American cheese only, or plain, thank you very much. But this isn’t about taste; it’s about choice. And it’s about the ludicrous notion that a “Chicago Hot Dog” is sooo much better than anyone else’s wieners that it’s too good for processed tomato products. Some of the problem lies in the refusal to make ketchup available even for use on fries. And everyone loves that!

This is off my chest now. But I’m still angry. And hungry. Thank you Kevin, for caring. For sharing. For daring. I’d hug you, but don’t want to get a ketchup stain on your shirt.

This isn’t over, Chicago. Join me in joining Kevin, and let’s fight the good fight.


6 thoughts on “My Condiments to the Chef. And Kevin Pang

  1. My dad, who is not a native Chicagoan, also frowns upon ketchup on hot dogs. But his mother created my favorite comfort food, Lauber Casserole, which involves mixing ground beef and elbow macaroni with an entire bottle of ketchup, then covering it all with cheddar cheese – I guess those chefs would frown upon that, eh?

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  3. I LOVE ketchup on my hot dog! And cheese! And relish! Mustard? No. It took me by surprise awhile back when I learned about the anit-ketchup on hot dogs way of thinking in Chicago, as my mother, who was raised in Berwyn, was the one who taught me to put ketchup on mine! I guess mom was more of a rebel than I gave her credit for.

  4. It’s a hot dog people. It’s about a $0.25 of “meat” product. I’d find it more fitting if it were the ketchup folk who were ashamed to have their product associated with the hot dog.

    Now before you go accusing me of being a ketchup elitist, I don’t use it on anything. Not fries, hot dogs, burgers…nothing. (And if you even think eggs…you’re nasty.) I’d wish they had the little packets of bbq sauce instead. I’ll have to try that on some fries next time. And maybe even on a hot dog. Maybe my next visit to Chicago I’ll sneak in a bottle of bbq sauce in so I can have some on my hot dog.

    Seriously, hot dogs aren’t deserving of so much attention. Next you’ll be trying to glorify bologna.

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