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  • Herrine Ro: Hot dogs might be an American classic food,

  • but Chicago knows how to make it a full meal.

  • We visited three famous spots,

  • Gene and Jude's, Superdawg's Drive-In, and Portillo's,

  • to find which Chicago-style hot dog is best in town.

  • Producer: Rolling. Cameraman: OK, rolling.

  • Erin Kommor: Rolling!

  • Herrine: We're in Chicago to start our journey

  • to find the best Chicago-style hot dog.

  • Have you had one before?

  • Erin: Herrine, like most things,

  • I have not had a Chicago-style hot dog.

  • What are we looking for in this hot dog?

  • Herrine: One,

  • the dog itself should be flavorful

  • and have that snap to it.

  • Erin: Oh, I love a snap.

  • Herrine: Yeah. The second one

  • is that every place that we'll be visiting

  • has their own iteration of what a Chicago-style hot dog is.

  • So the toppings should all meld together and make sense.

  • Everything should be a cohesive flavor profile.

  • Erin: Uh-huh, amazing.

  • Herrine: Third, we're looking for the satiation effect.

  • A Chicago-style hot dog should be a full meal.

  • Erin: Yes!

  • Herrine: So after you eat it, are we full?

  • Erin: Yeah. Herrine: Do we want more?

  • Erin: OK, so let's go try them.

  • Herrine: Our first stop is Superdawg's,

  • and this place is known for their Superdawgs,

  • not their hot dogs. Erin: Ooh! Amazing.

  • Herrine: We will truly get in trouble

  • if we call it a hot dog.

  • Erin: OK, OK. I will not call it that.

  • Lisa Drucker: There are other hot-dog places

  • throughout Chicago, but nothing is a Superdawg.

  • Customer: I consider Superdawg to have the best

  • Chicago hot dogs in the city.

  • I think it has a lot to do with the dog itself.

  • It's a little bit thicker and heavier

  • than the dogs you get at most places.

  • Scott Berman: The Superdawg is all-beef choice cuts

  • made to our recipe.

  • Extra large, so large that we have to have buns

  • made specially to hold the Superdawg.

  • Lisa: And they're also cooked exactly

  • the right amount of time

  • to give it the right snap, the right bite in your mouth.

  • Not too soft and not too hard.

  • Don Drucker: The generic, traditional definition

  • of a Chicago-style hot dog is a boiled hot dog

  • served on a steamed poppy seed bun

  • served with the Chicago seven:

  • golden yellow mustard, bright neon-green relish,

  • a white chopped onion, a kosher pickle spear, a red tomato,

  • hot peppers, and celery salt.

  • We're a little bit different.

  • We don't use a red tomato.

  • We use the green pickled tomato,

  • and we don't use celery salt.

  • The other thing about a Chicago-style hot dog

  • is you never put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago.

  • Scott: We serve all of our Superdawgs in a box,

  • and it also contains Superfries.

  • We're very proud of our french fries.

  • Fresh potatoes peeled and cut in-house

  • and then put in the box with the Superdawg.

  • Herrine: I don't know how to do this.

  • Erin: Oh, my God, you're gonna fall out.

  • I feel like I have to spot you.

  • Herrine: I feel like a dog.

  • "Press button for service."

  • Lisa: Hiya, thanks for stopping.

  • Can I take your order now, please?

  • Herrine: Yes, can I get two Superdawgs?

  • Lisa: Sure, everything on both of them?

  • Herrine: Yes, please.

  • Lisa: Thank you. Herrine: Thank you!

  • Lisa: Coming right up, thank you.

  • Herrine: Can you pop the trunk?

  • Erin: Yes, honey.

  • Herrine: Oh, wow. Erin: Holy...!

  • Herrine: She is filled to the brim.

  • Erin: She is filled to the brim!

  • It's not just, like, a wimpy little hot dog.

  • Herrine: Like, it's so packed that it's, like,

  • difficult for me to fish out the....

  • Erin: I know, I'm actually having -

  • uh-oh.

  • [somber music]

  • Herrine: No!

  • Erin: You can have mine, Herrine.

  • Herrine: It was part of the experience.

  • Erin: Oh, my God, it's really good.

  • Oh, my God.

  • Herrine: Oh, yeah!

  • Erin: That is...

  • unreal.

  • Herrine: That is so good.

  • Erin: It's one of the best hot -

  • if not the best hot dog I've had.

  • Herrine: Every ingredient is, like, very purposely put on.

  • Erin: Totally.

  • I didn't know what a hot dog -

  • like, I'm basic.

  • Like, I've only had a hot dog with, like,

  • ketchup and mustard from, like, a stand.

  • The mustard and the onions and the pickle,

  • that's what should be on a hot dog.

  • Herrine: Yeah, I agree.

  • Erin: And they're so fresh.

  • Every single ingredient is so fresh here.

  • Herrine: The first bite of that dog,

  • for me, I got the snap.

  • You got the snap? Erin: I got the snap,

  • and I love the end piece.

  • That's, like, my favorite.

  • It had such a nice crispy snap.

  • Herrine: And it's so juicy!

  • Erin: It's so juicy.

  • Herrine: And that bun is not something to be overlooked.

  • Erin: No!

  • Herrine: It is so plush and honestly, like...

  • Erin: The plushest.

  • Herrine: Sticks together, and I like the combination of

  • the toppings and how it's, like, sweet and crunchy and sour.

  • Erin: Me too, I love...

  • acidity is my thing, so all the pickles

  • and onions and relish really adds a real big pop.

  • Wait, have you tried the...

  • Herrine: Sport pepper. Erin: Yeah.

  • Herrine: Let's try it together.

  • Erin: Oh, I like that.

  • [Herrine laughs]

  • Oh, it's very spicy!

  • OK, so, overall, how do you feel?

  • Herrine: I like everything in a Superdawg.

  • Erin: I do like everything, but I just, like,

  • love the meat so much.

  • Herrine: The fries, also...

  • Erin: They've divine. I love a crinkle.

  • Herrine: You get that pillowy inside and crunchy outside.

  • Erin: So pillowy.

  • Herrine: I don't think there's one thing

  • that I can say that's bad about this.

  • Erin: I wouldn't change anything.

  • Herrine: Would you consider this the

  • super hot dog? Erin: Superiest?

  • It's the superiest Superdawg I've ever had.

  • Herrine: But we can't make a decision just yet.

  • Erin: I want another one.

  • Herrine: I want another one too.

  • Erin: OK, Herrine. Where are we?

  • Herrine: Surprise! We're not in Chicago anymore.

  • We are five minutes outside of Chicago,

  • but we still have to loop this in because

  • this place sells a very famous Chicago-style hot dog.

  • Erin: I see.

  • Nick Holmes: Gene and Jude's

  • is a traditional hot-dog stand,

  • one of the few remaining in the country.

  • And we're located in River Grove,

  • which is about five minutes

  • outside the city limits of Chicago.

  • There's two styles of Chicago hot dog.

  • There are the "dragged through the garden" variety,

  • which has tomatoes, pickles, and all that.

  • We do Depression Dogs,

  • which is kind of the original Chicago hot dog.

  • But the Depression Dog started back in the Depression era,

  • when people didn't really have a lot of money

  • and they were looking for a cheaper way

  • to get a lot of food.

  • My uncle decided to take fries

  • and top the hot dog with them

  • as a way to help fill your belly a little bit more

  • and add a little more flavor to the hot dog.

  • The Depression Dog is actually more iconic to local

  • Chicagoans than the dragged through the garden variety.

  • Customer: What I love most about the hot dogs here

  • are the authenticity.

  • It really comes with the culture of the community,

  • and I feel like I'm in Chicago when I eat a hot dog here.

  • It's great.

  • Nick: So, we use regular hot dog buns that we do steam,

  • and that helps soften them up a bit.

  • We use classic Vienna hot dogs.

  • We boil them for a very specific time.

  • Our hot dogs come with a full casing,

  • so when you bite into it, you get that,

  • you know, it breaks off with a good snap.

  • So, a Depression Dog is only mustard,

  • relish - brown relish, typically -

  • onions,

  • and sport peppers,

  • and then you top that with fries.

  • Our fries are peeled and hand-cut in-house.

  • Herrine: I'm gonna get us napkins.

  • Where are the napkins?

  • Oh, here we are.

  • I have found the napkins.

  • Erin: Boop. [beep]

  • Oh, my goodness, there's so many fries.

  • Oh, my God.

  • Herrine: You know how, like, people say, like,

  • "Oh, you're a snack," Erin: Holy...!

  • "This is, like, the whole meal"?

  • Erin: Take a few fries off. Herrine: OK.

  • Erin: And then eat a few fries, like,

  • just, like, to warm yourself up.

  • Oh, heck, yeah. Herrine: Solid fry.

  • Erin: So solid.

  • Herrine: OK, let's go for it.

  • Erin: Cheers.

  • Mm.

  • Herrine: When I saw photos, like,

  • I thought it was gonna be too much carbs,

  • because, a pile of fries.

  • So I thought topping-wise it would be overwhelming,

  • but there is a very pleasant sensation to it

  • when you take a bite and you get all of these, like,

  • layers of plushy potatoes. Erin: I know.

  • They're so plush.

  • Herrine: And, like, the flavorful, snappy dog.

  • Erin: So snappy.

  • It feels very, like, comforting and familiar.

  • Herrine: This I feel like is, like,

  • the true Midwest thing, Erin: Yeah.

  • where it's like, a meal is supposed to be, like,

  • hearty, stick to your bones.

  • Erin: Yeah.

  • Herrine: You know, like, how sometimes when you're eating,

  • like, a regular sandwich, you, like,

  • put in fries or potato chips?

  • Erin: Potato chips, yeah!

  • Herrine: To, like, make it taste better.

  • Erin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • It's like the missing link we've been searching for.

  • Herrine: The link!

  • Like a sausage, you know?

  • Erin: [laughing] I truly didn't get it.

  • At Superdawg, they serve them on the side.

  • Herrine: And I don't think it would work with, like,

  • a dragged through the garden thing,

  • where you put fries on top. Erin: No, there's no room!

  • Herrine: There truly is no room.

  • Erin: No. And if you're gonna put fries on the hot dog,

  • they better be good, and I'm just gonna say it.

  • These are my favorite fries.

  • Herrine: Really? Erin: Yes.

  • Herrine: Why?

  • Erin: I love a crinkle cut, sure,

  • but I find that with crinkle cut sometimes

  • they get, like, dry,

  • and, like, they're not as flavorful to me.

  • These are so greasy and, like, satisfying.

  • Herrine: It's very smart that they use this kind of fry,

  • like you said, because it, like,

  • sops up all that extra juice.

  • If we're judging on the satiation,

  • you're getting a full-on serving of french fries