It’s not just that a genuine bonafide Chicago Dog is the apex of hot dog deliciousness, consumed copiously by Chicagoans, privileged and proletariat alike; it’s that this dog is revered as a symbol of its city, part of Chicago’s pride and joy.
However, recently a national corporate condiments conglomerate attempted to mess around with the Chicago Dog, by trickery no less, much to the wrath of Chicagoans.
A real Chicago Dog has nine immutable components: A hot dog, of course, resting in a poppy seed bun and topped by onions, tomato wedges, small mild yellow pickled banana peppers known as “sport peppers,” a pickle spear, yellow mustard, a bright Kelly-green relish found nowhere else outside the Chicago Hot Dog kingdom, and a sprinkling of celery seed.
Were one to go a bit rogue and a slip a smidge of chili or a few slices of sautéed zucchini or jalapeño onto one’s dog, one could probably do so with a minimum of scorn; but there is one additive that may never ever touch the delectable casing of a Chicago Dog: Ketchup.
Chicagoans do not put ketchup on their hot dogs and they don’t suffer those unenlightened culinary troglodytes who do.
Tout court, ketchup on a Chicago Dog is incontestably anathema.
Now, this ketchup-on-hot-dog taboo, which has been in place since time immemorial and seemed destined to continue on per omnia secula seculorum, was apparently giving the Heinz Company – whose number-one stock in trade is – what else? – ketchup - a goodly case of heartburn.
But then someone within the recesses of the Heinz body electric – likely some wisenheimer whiz-kid in Marketing – came up with what the company powers-that-be apparently thought a brilliant idea: trick Chicagoans into eating ketchup on their dogs, get them hooked on the stuff, then corner the ketchup market in the hot dog capital of the world.
In other words, the Heinz Company decided to try the time-tested marketing method used by successful drug-pushers the world over.
Their scheme played out thus:
Heinz introduced a new product they called Chicago Dog Sauce, which they claimed – truthfully – was a tasty blend of fresh tomatoes, herbs, and spices. This new sauce, supposedly – not truthfully - developed especially for Chicago-style hot dogs, comes in a Chicago-blue-and-white bottle with a label that reads “Chicago Dog Sauce” and sports an image of the city’s flag.
Until they learned that they’d been pranked and tricked into eating ketchup on their dog.
The prankees' responses varied, one not wanting to finish his dog, another shrugging off the prank and humbly admitting he liked the sauce, even if it was…ketchup.
As for how Chicagoans in general are taking to the ketchup deception perpetrated upon some of their own: Not well.
Chicago Hot Dog Patriots: 1; Corporate Ketchup Dealers: 0.