The Firehouse Foodie: Summer and The Chicago Hot Dog

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By Frank E. Vaerewyck

Summer. The word alone conjures up images of the beach, vacations, bright sunny days, and cookouts. You can feel the heat, smell the barbecue and taste the sweet treats of summer like watermelon, lemonade. and one of my favorites (that’s not so sweet) – Hot Dogs!

What is a Hot Dog? According to the experts at Wikipedia, a Hot Dog (also spelled hotdog) is also known as a frankfurter (sometimes shortened to frank), dog, or wiener, a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a partially sliced bun.

Hot Dogs have their own day! National Hot Dog Day is celebrated by all Hot Dog enthusiasts on July 19 of every year.

Now the age-old question is still out there: is a Hot Dog a sandwich? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has ruled that by a late night host’s definition of a sandwich, a Hot Dog is a sandwich. Wikipedia also claims that it is a type of “sausage sandwich.” Typical garnishes include mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, coleslaw, cheese, chili, olives, or sauerkraut. Hot dog variants include the corn dog, and pig in a blanket, but no matter how you like your dog or what you want to call it, it is a staple of many backyard barbecues and cookouts.

Hot dog cultural traditions include the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, held every July 4 on Coney Island in New York City Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won this year by huffing down 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. This was his eleventh win, beating his own world record set in 2017 (only 72 hot dogs and buns).

This summer tradition, and one that is enjoyed in Fire Stations all over this great nation, has many variations, but this month’s recipe is one of my all time favorites, The Chicago Dog. I hope you and your crew try it, love it. “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

The Chicago Dog

Makes 1 Serving


  • 1 ALL Beef Hot Dog
  • 1 Poppy Seed Bun
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet green pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 4 tomato wedges
  • 1 dill pickle spear
  • 2 sport peppers
  • 1 dash celery salt


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, place hot dog in water, and cook 5 minutes or until done. Remove hot dog and set aside. Carefully place a steamer basket into the pot and steam the hot dog bun 2 minutes or until warm.
  2. Place hot dog in the steamed bun. Pile on the toppings in this order: yellow mustard, sweet green pickle relish, onion, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt. The tomatoes should be nestled between the hot dog and the top of the bun. Place the pickle between the hot dog and the bottom of the bun. (Don’t even think about ketchup! There is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is unacceptable. A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.) ENJOY!

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