It’s a warm day and you are in the stands at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are up to bat and you are on the edge of your seat, with a cold drink in one hand and a steaming hot dog in the other. Life couldn’t be better. That hot dog was made right here in Chicago at the Vienna Beef factory. And did you know that Vienna Beef is the official hot dog of the Chicago Cubs? Well we visited the factory on Damen last week. Our new friends Carrie, Julie, and Bob enlightened us about Vienna Beef and some fun facts about the hot dog.
Vienna Beef has a factory store when you can go and buy all the great Vienna Beef products. And guess what ? They are not just about meat, there are other non meat products that are sold at the store . They sell those great poppy seed buns, green relish for the Chicago dog, soup, salad, and frozen desserts. You can also buy lunches at the little cafe and purchase Vienna Beef merchandise as well. With all my exercise and dieting, I just had to break down to enjoy these American classics. With Memorial Day this week, the factory store was having a tent sale so people could stock up for picnics and cook outs. Julie and Carrie sat with us as we sampled the yummy treats. We got to eat corned beef, Italian beef, polish, and of course a Chicago dog with all the trimmings. This was paired with a generous helping of gooey cheese fries. We were also given a sample of the beef brisket as well. They were delicious.
I learned a lot about the hot dog from the girls and Bob. First of all , the sausage that would be known as a hot dog was originated right here in Chicago in 1893. It was originated by two Austrian immigrants. Since I came from the East, I asked how did the Chicago style hot dog originate. Carrie and Julie said that it was originated during the Depression. With the different immigrants that inhabited the city and different cuisines, the condiments combined came to be known as a “banquet on a bun” That was why vendors could sell them so cheap. And this was where Bob came in, Bob is Bob Schwartz . Bob is the senior Vice President of Vienna Beef and has dedicated his life to the hot dog. His beef products are sold all over the country and this caused him to write a book dedicated to his romance with America’s treat. It is called Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog. In the book, Bob elaborates on the idea that we all grew up with a hot dog stand in our neighborhood and that these places came to be known as American icons. Bob has taken this further with the Hot Dog Hall of Fame. It honors these owners and their restaurants that have grown to be parts of Americana. Julie added that the condiments just seem to blend together well. We ended our meal with a delicious frozen treat, a chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. We were also given a few other goodies as well, t shirts, some polish and hot dogs to eat at home, and Bob gave me a personally autographed copy of his book. We had a great time and promised to stay in touch. Thanks to Julie, Carrie, Bob and all the other great people at Vienna Beef.