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15 Foods Invented in Chicago Besides Deep Dish Pizza

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Tourists may flock to Chicago to try authentic, Bisquick-esque Chicago deep dish pizza, which Pizzeria Uno owner Ike Sewell invented in 1943, but there are a score of other foods that originated in Chicago that have either spread nationwide or are still only available in the Windy City. Here are Chicago’s illustrious and more obscure specialties.

1. ITALIAN BEEF

Just as ubiquitous as deep dish pizza and hot dogs, the Italian Beef sandwich has made its way around the world. Italian immigrants created the delicacy in the 1920s or 1930s, during the Depression. Al Ferreri and family members opened Al’s Beef in 1938, but it’s unclear if he was the inventor of the sandwich. It evolved from the means of making unflavorful meat taste better and last longer, so people roasted it, used the sandwich’s bread to soak up the juices, and then added giardiniera on top to add some heat.

Chicago’s Al’s Italian Beef has an option to serve the sandwich wet, which means more gravy is added. Almost all 50 states have at least one Italian Beef shop, and Chicagoland has over 300 of them. Al’s recently opened a store in Dallas that proved to be so well-liked, it had to temporarily close to restock. And if you ever want to make Italian Beef at home, Portillo’s sells a handy DIY kit.

2. TWINKIE

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James Dewar, who was a baker for Continental Baking Company in Chicago suburb Schiller Park, invented the spongy yellow cake snack in 1930. He came across a billboard for Twinkle Toe Shoes, and the name stuck. Dewar first made the Twinkies stuffed with banana crème but then switched to the traditional vanilla crème style. By 1980, Twinkies sold at the rate of about 1 billion a year, but in 2012 Twinkies almost vanished from the face of the earth when Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy. Two private equity firms joined forces and purchased Hostess and saved the food (and deep fried Twinkies) from eminent extinction. Twinkies made a comeback in July 2013, this time being manufactured out of only four plants in the U.S. Unfortunately, the Schiller Park plant closed last year, so it’s best to ration those treats just in case.

3. WRIGLEY'S GUM

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Gum has been around for thousands of years, but the mass-produced, multi-flavored varieties we know today can be traced to William Wrigley Jr. A native of Philadelphia, Wrigley moved to Chicago in the 1890s and established the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891, but back then he was a soap and baking powder salesman. He threw in a couple of free packs of chewing gum with each baking powder sale, and it was so popular that he decided to focus on gum.

In 1893 he invented Wrigley’s Spearmint and Juicy Fruit gums, added Doublemint in 1914, and the company introduced Extra sugar-free gum in 1984. Wrigley’s also known for his advertising acumen, when in 1915 he sent free sticks of gum to everyone in the phone book. Wrigley’s indelible mark can be seen all over Chicago: The Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue’s named after him, and so is Wrigley Field, home to the Cubs.

4. VIENNA BEEF

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Next to the deep dish pizza, Chicago’s best known for the omnipresent Chicago-style hot dog (all-beef hot dog in a steamed poppy-seed bun and “dragged through the garden”: chopped onions, neon green relish, tomato wedges, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers, celery salt, mustard, and no ketchup) and subsets such as the char dog and Polish dog. For a while, it was the only game in town, but soon other all-beef suppliers—most notably Red Hots—started encroaching on their turf. While different joints around the city have slight variations for their hot dogs, there remains a constant: These types of frankfurters.

During the World’s Fair, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany emigrated from Vienna, Austria, to Chicago and sold their beef hot dogs at the fair. A year later, in 1894, they opened their first storefront. The Great Depression helped the Vienna Beef encased meats become a staple throughout hot dog stands in Chicago, and in 1964 the dogs infiltrated markets in California. Vienna Beef hot dogs can be found everywhere from Johnny Rockets to mom-and-pop hot dog stands.

5. CRACKER JACK

Mike Mozart, Flickr

One of the foods introduced during the 1893 World’s Fair eventually became the ballpark snack Cracker Jack. German immigrant Frederick William Rueckheim and his brother debuted their candied popcorn mixed with peanuts at the exposition, and three years later the first batches of molasses-covered popcorn were sold to the public. In 1908, musicians Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer furthered the food’s popularity when they wrote about buying Cracker Jack in their heralded ballpark anthem “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” In 1912, the company started selling the product with small prizes inside the boxes. Today, Frito Lay owns the brand and concocts flavors like butter toffee, kettle corn, and caramel coated popcorn—which are all still sold with prizes inside.

6. CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

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You have Chicago to thank for brownies, more specifically, Bertha Palmer. Her millionaire husband, Potter Palmer, owned the Palmer House hotel (it’s still open today), and she wanted to bake something for the World’s Fair that wasn’t a cake but had the texture of one and was also small enough to place inside a boxed lunch. Palmer’s recipe consisted of semi-sweet chocolate, crushed walnuts, and it was topped with an apricot glaze made from preserves. The first instance of the word “brownie” appeared in a 1898 Sears Roebuck catalog, and eventually the rest of the world fell in love with the dessert.

7. FROZEN DESSERTS

Frozen pound cakes were the invention of Downers Grove, Illinois' Charles Lubin, who founded Sara Lee in the 1950s and named it after his daughter. Lubin started out as owner of a chain of bakeries called Community Bake Shops, but he wanted to figure out a way to distribute the baked goods outside of Chicago without the food spoiling. He came up with the concept of freezing the product in a foil baking pan. He then was able to distribute the goods within a 300-mile radius of Chicago and eventually into 48 states. In 1976, Sara Lee had the honor of baking the nation’s bicentennial birthday cake , which was so huge (four stories), it filled up Freedom Hall.

8. JIBARITO

rosidae, Flickr

The jibarito is a modern entry on this list, as it was invented in the 1990s. It’s unclear if the sandwich was in fact invented in Puerto Rico or Chicago, but Chicagoan Juan C. “Pete” Figueroa definitely made it his own in the city. Figueroa read about the “sandwich de platano” in a Puerto Rican newspaper and decided to cook his own version. The jibarito (hee-bah-ree-to) uses crispy green plantains as bread, and meats (pork, steak, or chicken), garlic mayo, cheese, lettuce, and tomato go between the plantains. Figueroa’s Humboldt Park eatery Borinquen Restaurant was the first to serve the sandwich in the city, but soon other Puerto Rican restaurants and Cuban restaurants started serving it.

9. PEPPER AND EGG SANDWICH

It sounds so effortless: bell peppers and scrambled eggs on a sandwich, but it’s more complex than that. The peppernegg sandwich manifested during Lent. Strips of green and/or red peppers sautéed with or without onions, whipped eggs, and sometimes cheese go between two slices of bread. Establishments in Chicago sell iterations of the sandwich, but you can easily make it at home.

10. PIZZA PUFF

What’s a pizza puff? Well, it’s a smaller, folded version of a pizza wrapped in a soft flour tortilla that’s deep fried—similar to a Hot Pocket. They’re indigenous to Chicago’s fast food restaurants, especially hot dog stands and pizza joints. Chicago-based Iltaco Foods exclusively manufactures them and distributes them to retail outlets and restaurants. They sell varieties like beef sausage and mozzarella cheese, a gyro puff made with gyro meat, cheese, peppers, and yogurt sauce, and a breakfast puff made with ham and cheddar cheese.

11. FLAMING SAGANAKI

Tee Poole, Flickr

The Greeks were onto something when they came up with fried cheese, but it was Chris Liakouras of Chicago’s Greektown’s The Parthenon who perfected it. High melting point cheeses like halloumi, kasseri, and kefalotyri are fried in a two-handled frying pan that’s called a “saganaki.” In 1968, Liakouras got the idea to fry the cheese tableside, pour brandy over it to flambée it, yell “Opa!”, and then finish it with a squirt of lemon juice. The cheese gets crispy on the outside but stays firm and only melts slightly on the inside. Throughout Greektown’s restaurants, types of saganaki vary: The Parthenon uses kasseri cheese, and Roditys has the option to add shrimp.

12. CHICKEN VESUVIO

Jesse Lisa, Flickr

This dish is rarely seen outside Chicago restaurants, but recipes for it can be found all over the Internet. According to “The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink,” an Italian cook who was inspired by the Mt. Vesuvius volcano (or Vesuvio in Italian) created the dish in Chicago after WWII. But Nick Giannotti claims his father, Vic, invented it in the 1960s. Chicken Vesuvio entails sautéing chicken-on-the-bone in a skillet with herbs, garlic, and white wine. It’s served with potatoes and peas to add some color. Critics named Italian steakhouse Harry Carey’s restaurant in Chicago as having the best Vesuvio in the city. Theirs is made with a half chicken or boneless breast, quartered potatoes, and sweet peas.

13. KRONOS GYRO

Chris Waits, Flickr

If you eat gyros, you are most likely eating one made from Glendale Heights, Illinois, company Kronos Gyro. (Look for the pretty girl poster.) Chris Tomaras founded the Greek company in 1975 where he developed what’s called a GyroKone: sliced beef, lamb, or chicken meat wrapped around a cone and ready to cook. This led to his gyro sandwich, which is meat roasted on a vertical spit and placed inside a warm pita bread topped with veggies and tzatziki sauce. Gyros were invented in Greece, but Tomaras claims he introduced gyros to Chicagoans, although others take credit for the innovation. Today, Kronos is the world’s largest manufacturer of gyros.

14. AND 15. CREAM OF WHEAT AND SHREDDED WHEAT

At the 1893 World's Fair, two breakfast staples arrived on Lake Michigan's shores, where they were introduced to the masses: Cream of Wheat and Shredded Wheat. The former was developed in Grand Forks, North Dakota as "breakfast porridge" when a group of flour millers repurposed the "first break rolls" from their mill. Shredded Wheat was invented in Denver and manufactured in upstate New York before premiering to a national audience at the fair. Both Shredded Wheat and Cream of Wheat became so popular in Chicago that they helped spark the ubiquity of packaged breakfasts.

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, August 20.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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New Matter MOD-t Desktop 3D Printer | Built-In WiFi, Easy to Use, Safe and Quiet for $269.10 (list price $399.00)

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Satechi Aluminum USB Headphone Stand Holder with Three USB 3.0 Ports and 3.5mm AUX port - Suitable For All Headphone Sizes (Gold) for $34.99 (list price $39.99)

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom, Built-in Wi-Fi and 3 inch LCD touch panel (Silver) for $399.00 (list price $529.00)

Invoxia Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa, Green for $199.00 (list price $199.00)

Withings Activité Pop - Activity and Sleep Tracking Watch for $99.99 (list price $179.99)

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The Keyboard Waffle Iron for $54.75 (list price $69.99)

Curva Artisan Series Double Wall Beverage Glasses and Tumblers - Unique 8 oz Thermo Insulated Drinking Glasses, Set of 4 for $26.31 (list price $26.31)

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koziol KASIMIR Hedgehog Cheese Grater, transparent red for $12.95 (list price $14.40)

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Cafe Du Chateau 34oz French Press, 4 Level Filtration System, 304 Grade Stainless Steel, Heat Resistant Borosilicate Glass for $22.95 (list price $27.95)

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Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20 for $43.12 (list price $59.99)

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Vornado VFAN Vintage Air Circulator Fan, Vintage White for $95.00 (list price $119.99)

Saganizer Hamper with Wheels Rolling Cart Heavy Duty Triple Laundry Organizer/Sorter, Chrome/White for $37.99 (list price $49.99)

Bronze Dimmable Accent Table Lamp with 1 Vintage Edison Style Bulb, Plugin, Brooklyn Bulb Co. Hoyt Collection, Inset Switch, ETL Listed for $69.99 (list price $129.00)

T4U 3 Inch Ceramic Cameo Double Layer Howllow Design succulent Plant Pot/Cactus Plant Pot With Saucer Full colors Package 1 Pack of 3 for $19.93 (list price $49.86)

Rexford Mid-Century Walnut Table Lamp Set of 2 for $119.98 (list price $179.99)

Seville Classics 3-Tier Resin Slat Utility Shoe Rack, Espresso for $29.99 (list price $34.40)

Byredo - Burning Rose Candle for $68.24 (list price $95.00)

K&H Manufacturing Mod Dream Pod Gray/Black 22" (unheated) for $38.39 (list price $45.59)

Deco 79 68135 Metal Bookend Pair for $28.40 (list price $57.00)

Mini Ceramic Hanging Succulent Planters Flower Pots for Home Decor - White 2 Pieces HakkaGirl for $9.89 (list price $16.54)

Prevue Pet Products Kitty Power Paws Multi-Platform Posts with Tassel Toys, Natural for $71.95 (list price $82.74)

HERNGEE Deer Head Single Wall Hook / Hanger Animal shaped Coat Hat Hook Heavy Duty, Rustic, Decorative Gift , Grey for $12.98 (list price $14.98)

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Eames Style Aluminum Group Management Office Chair Reproduction Leather White for $345.00 (list price $1,345.00)

Acrylic Desktop, Folder and Makeup Palette Organizer - Mail, Paper/Paperwork Organizer - File Sorter; File Folder Holder - Laptop Rack - by Unum - Black and Clear, 9" x 6.75" x 6.5" for $20.99 (list price $29.99)

Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Mouse for $23.53 (list price $29.95)

Arteza Real Brush Pens - 24-Colors - Watercolor Markers - (Set of 24) for $21.99 (list price $66.99)

KABB Modern Digital Mechanical Retro Flip Dоwn Clock wіth Internal Gear Operated (Black) for $43.99 (list price $89.99)

Block Sketch Desk Tidy, Blue for $29.06 (list price $38.00)

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Scotch Magic Tape, 3/4 x 1000 Inches, Boxed, 6 Rolls (810K6) for $9.89 (list price $11.45)

Wilson Jones 3 Ring Binder 3 Inch, Round Ring View Binder, Basic, 362 Series, Customizable, White (W362-49W) for $4.89 (list price $7.18)

eBoot 12 Inches Plastic Ruler Straight Ruler Plastic Measuring Tool for Student School Office, Clear, 2 Pack for $6.99 (list price $8.99)

Mead Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 100 Sheets, 5 Pack (72930) for $13.90 (list price $20.30)

Personal Daily Planner Organizer Will Help You to Keep Work-Life Balance & Achieve a Little More Goals - NO DATES Calendar Planner ( 8,5 X 5,7 ) - Diary Notebook for Man and Women 2017 / 2018 / 2019 for $18.99 (list price $29.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Conair Oval Shaped Double-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror, 1x/7x magnification, Polished Chrome Finish for $26.09 (list price $34.99)

Mudder Silicone Cosmetic Containers Cream Jar with Sealed Lids, 3 Pieces (20 ml) for $8.99 (list price $14.99)

Dukes Daily Age-Defying Facial Moisturizer Cream 4oz - Anti-Aging Lotion - Day/Night Face Wash Fuel for Men – All Organic for $19.99 (list price $45.00)

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Umbra Stowit Jewelry Box - Modern Keepsake Storage Organizer with Hidden Compartment Drawers for Ring, Bracelet, Watch, Necklace, Earrings, and Accessories for $42.05 (list price $60.00)

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Poler Men's Retro Rolltop Backpack, Black, One Size for $63.71 (list price $74.95)

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Joovy Bicycoo Balance Bike, Red for $117.87 (list price $129.99)

eBags Crew Cooler II (Blue Yonder) for $34.99 (list price $49.99)

2 Pack Swimming Cap - TURATA Waterproof Unisex Premium Earmuffs Silicone No-Slip Swimming Cap for Adults Kids Woman and Men One Size Hat - Black & Blue for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

SEMOO Water Resistant ,2-3 Person,1 Door,3-Season Lightweight Tent for Camping with Carry Bag for $42.99 (list price $79.98)

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chairs with Carry Bag Heavy Duty 242lbs Capacity Camping Folding Chairs Beach Chairs for $34.99 (list price $67.99)

TOOLS

Bosch GMS120 Digital Multi-Scanner for $65.00 (list price $69.99)

True Utility FIXR Multi-Tool (20 Tools in 1) for $4.09 (list price $14.99)

GlowGeek 120 to 3000 Grit Sandpaper Assortment, Dry/Wet, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 42 Pieces,Sand Paper for Automotive Sanding, Wood Furniture Finishing, Wood Turing Finishing for $9.96 (list price $24.99)

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Dremel 2200-01 Versa Flame Multi-Function Butane Torch for $39.00 (list price $42.99)

Plus Pen Style Compact Twiggy Scissors with Cover, White (34609) for $4.36 (list price $5.99)

Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool for $79.00 (list price $99.00)

Southwire Tools & Equipment POUCH4 Leather Tool Pouch for $15.28 (list price $17.98)

NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog Scratch Resistant Wrap-Around Lenses and No-Slip Grips, UV Protection. Adjustable, Black & Green Frames for $9.39 (list price $10.49)

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ORIA 86 in 1 Precision Screwdriver Set, Magnet Repair Tool Kit with Portable Bag for iPhone/ Cell Phone/ iPad/ Tablet/ PC/ MacBook and Other Electronics for $29.99 (list price $89.99)

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Big Questions
Should You Keep Your Pets Indoors During the Solar Eclipse?
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PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

By now, you probably know what you’ll be doing on August 21, when a total solar eclipse makes its way across the continental United States. You’ve had your safety glasses ready since January (and have confirmed that they’ll actually protect your retinas), you’ve picked out the perfect vantage point in your area for the best view, and you’ve memorized Nikon’s tips for how to take pictures of this rare celestial phenomenon. Still, it feels like you’re forgetting something … and it’s probably the thing that's been right under your nose, and sitting on your lap, the whole time: your pets.

Even if you’ve never witnessed a solar eclipse, you undoubtedly know that you’re never supposed to look directly at the sun during one. But what about your four-legged family members? Shouldn’t Fido be fitted with a pair of eclipse glasses before he heads out for his daily walk? Could Princess Kitty be in danger of having her peepers singed if she’s lounging on her favorite windowsill? While, like humans, looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse does pose the potential of doing harm to a pet’s eyes, it’s unlikely that the thought would even occur to the little ball of fluff.

“It’s no different than any other day,” Angela Speck, co-chair of the AAS National Solar Eclipse Task Force, explained during a NASA briefing in June. “On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not going to do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.”

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a veterinarian, author, and founder of pawcurious, echoed Speck’s statement, but allowed that there’s no such thing as being too cautious. “It’s hard for me to criticize such a well-meaning warning, because there’s really no harm in following the advice to keep pets inside during the eclipse,” Vogelsang told Snopes. “It’s better to be too cautious than not cautious enough. But in the interest of offering a realistic risk assessment, the likelihood of a pet ruining their eyes the same way a human would during an eclipse is much lower—not because the damage would be any less were they to stare at the sun, but because, from a behavior standpoint, dogs and cats just don’t have any interest in doing so. We tend to extrapolate a lot of things from people to pets that just doesn’t bear out, and this is one of them.

“I’ve seen lots of warnings from the astronomy community and the human medical community about the theoretical dangers of pets and eclipses, but I’m not sure if any of them really know animal behavior all that well," Vogelsang continued. "It’s not like there’s a big outcry from the wildlife community to go chase down coyotes and hawks and bears and give them goggles either. While we in the veterinary community absolutely appreciate people being concerned about their pets’ wellbeing, this is a non-issue for us.”

The bigger issue, according to several experts, would be with pets who are already sensitive to Mother Nature. "If you have the sort of pet that's normally sensitive to shifts in the weather, they might be disturbed by just the whole vibe because the temperature will drop and the sky will get dark,” Melanie Monteiro, a pet safety expert and author of The Safe-Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out, told TODAY.

“If [your pets] have learned some association with it getting darker, they will show that behavior or at a minimum they get confused because the timeframe does not correspond,” Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn Vet Hospital told CBS Philly. “You might put the blinds down, but not exactly when the dark is coming but when it is still light.” 

While Monteiro again reasserts that, "Dogs and cats don't normally look up into the sun, so you don't need to get any special eye protection for your pets,” she says that it’s never a bad idea to take some extra precautions. So if you’re headed out to an eclipse viewing party, why not do your pets a favor and leave them at home. They won’t even know what they’re missing.

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