4 Ways To Defend Using Ketchup On Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Photo: Tara Moore (Getty Images)

No ketchup on the hot dogs. Everyone who’s even heard of Chicago-style hot dogs knows that for some reason it’s almost illegal to put the tomato derivative on a dog. Reasons range from a fervent adherence to tradition and the biblically-regarded ingredient requirements for a Chicago-style sausage to the simple fact that flies swarm to sugary toppings like ketchup, making the condiment a poor choice for ballgames at Wrigley Field. This stricture is ridiculous. We’re going to give you some ammo you can use on furious natives when you break out the Heinz.

1. Ketchup is garbage but so are the sausages.

You might not want to try this line of reasoning unless you’re a native, but it’s true. Let’s get one thing settled up front: ketchup is the worst condiment available outside of its use on fries. While the fair city of Chicago does boast some of the highest quality wieners in the country, we’re still talking about hot dogs here. You know, the links made out of animal lips and other undesirable parts.

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The claim that ketchup will blot out the unique flavor of the dog itself is absurd, especially when there’s no problem piling on the mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, a pickle spear, and celery salt. For something that claims to have a delicate balance of subtle flavors, it sure has a lot of potent toppings. The best part of a Chicago-style Red Hot is the medley of flavors, not the sausage itself. A little ketchup won’t hurt it.

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2. Last time we checked we live in America.

While a litany of famous Chicagoans would deride your potentially poor choice of condiments, only the most obnoxious would try to call you out for breaking the rules. Following the rules has historically been a pastime for nerds and apparently people who take junk food way too seriously. You’d think the whole “no ketchup” thing would be more of a joke to play on tourists, but you’d be wrong. Many Chicagoans are genuinely offended by ketchup enthusiasts, but don’t let these hall monitors tell you what you can and can’t eat.

3. Hot dogs shouldn’t be high-maintenance.

There are so many ingredients required for an authentic Chicago-style hot dog. When you’re making a late-night snack after too many Old Style and Malort, the last thing you want to do is open up three different jars, cut onions and tomatoes, and look for celery salt you definitely don’t have. Put some ketchup on there and eat.

Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG (Getty Images)

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4. There are way more important things to be mad about.

We can understand anger over the Cubs not making the Playoffs, but worrying about ketchup is something no one should have time for, especially when you can do something important like registering to vote. People take the whole thing too seriously and ruin the joke. So feel free to put whatever you want on your Chicago dog, and remember that haters only make you famous.