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Liz Barclay

Get to Know the Chicago-Style Hot Dog

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Liz Barclay

If you know only one thing about eating a hot dog in Chicago, know this: no ketchup. It’s natural to think of a Chicago dog—traditionally served with a heaping combination of toppings as improbably delicious as it is bizarre—as defined by its accoutrements, but its essence is articulated not by what’s on it, but rather what isn’t.

And ketchup isn’t.

Most Chicagoans will tell you, exasperated, that there’s no ketchup on Chicago dogs because there just isn’t. Bill Murphy, who’s served them at Murphy’s Red Hots in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood for 28 years, has a better explanation: “Ketchup is very powerful; it throws the whole flavor profile off.” And if you want to go off the rails, unless you’re a child or a pregnant woman, you’re on your own: Murphy’s cooks will refuse to dish out the verboten condiment.

The most accepted version of the Chicago dog’s origin myth dates back to the Depression, when vendors would load up their hot dogs with common vegetables and sell them to broke customers as a cheap full meal. For a food that’s never gone out of style, the Chicago dog exists in a throwback universe: The most popular vendors are big-mouthed and talk fast, serving from antiquated stands with menus that haven’t changed in decades.

In other words: Save the ketchup, and savor a classic.

The Chicago dog you see here was photographed (and eaten), rather sacrilegiously, in New York City, at the Shake Shack in Battery Park. At locations globally (including Chicago), Shack makes what many Chicagoans regard as a passable, tasty “Shack-Cago” dog—though it’s missing poppy seeds. If you’re in Chicago, however, we suggest visits to Murphy’s Red Hots, Gene & Jude’s, Jimmy’s Red Hots, The Weiner’s Circle, or Wolfy’s. Or all of ’em. Photo by Liz Barclay.

The fixin's include:

1. Poppy Seed Bun
Purists accept only Rosen’s—their buns best withstand a dog’s heat.

2. Vienna Beef Hot Dog in Natural Casing
Usually steamed. Charred: also fine. The casing gives the dog that key first-bite “snap.”

3. Yellow Mustard
The simple part of this.

4. Neon Relish
Usually sweet, and alien-green colored.

5. White Onions
Only white, and diced.

6. Tomatoes
Preferably wedges.

7. Dill Pickle Spear
Something cold and crisp—crunch is key.

8. Sport Peppers
Served whole.

9. Celery Salt
A distinct seasoning improbably tying the mess together into a thing of culinary beauty.


Char Dog
A dog grilled and charred rather than steamed or boiled

Never say it.“Style” implies Chicago’s hot dogs are a variation
of an original. Diehard Chicagoans argue that theirs is the original.

Depression Dogs
[a.k.a. the Minimalist] Some claim this is the original Chicago dog: a regular bun, mustard, onions, peppers, sometimes with relish, sometimes topped with a pile of skin-on French fries.

With everything on it; also acceptable: “loaded up,” “dragged through the garden,” and “with the works.”

Red Hots
Synonym for “hot dogs”; refers to the temperature of the dogs and the red dye the Vienna brand added for aesthetics. Trust vendors that use this terminology.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.


A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.


Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.


Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.


The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.


Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.


Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]


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