The year is 1929. The Great Depression has started and folks are hungry. Chicagoans say “Hold my hot dog…I got you.”
The origin of the Chicago Dog, is wrapped up in a time when folks were working hard and needed a nutrious yet delicious meal. The components of the Chicago Dog saved the working class and have stayed unchanged since the original rolled up and out of a hot dog stand.
All Beef frank, not boiled but steam cooked and held in warm water for upto 20 to 30 minutes. Boiling makes your Frank’s tough. The steam and hold gives that perfect snap. Nathan’s aren’t the best, you need an all beef, preferably a Veinna Beef.
Chopped White onions, Pickle Relish or a pickle spear, Yellow Mustard, Sport Peppers, and sliced tomatoes. Neatly slopped on your beef frank in a soft poppy seed bun.
An Ode To Chicago's Most Famous Cuisine, From Iowa's Doc Kaalberg
Today I was taken back in time to a truly wonderful place. No it wasn’t 1929 Chicago, I’m a man of AC and internet capabilities. However, the folks at Holly’s Dogs in Clinton, Iowa served me what could possibly be the most authentic and perfect Chicago Dog I’ve had since I was a little boy, walking out of a Cubs vs Cards game at Wrigley Field with my old man.
All 5 bites of this dog were perfect. The snap of the dog, the crunch of the onions and pickle spear, the taste of the sport peppers, and the perfect amount of yellow mustard. Nothing to sweet, not much heat. Just all taste, wonderful drool inducing taste.
9.4/10 all day long. Maybe a few more onions, and an extra pepper to pop this upto a 9.7/9.8…
Of course the double batter fries, I’m always a fan of a definite 8/10.
Holly’s Dogs is worth the trip to Clinton. A quick jump through the drive thru and head out. The prices are right on the spot and the quality is amazing. My only real complaint, I have to drive to Clinton again for another, however its cheaper than running to Chicago.
Shout out to Royce who approached my buddy and I asking where the bus stop was, then circling back around and asking for the rest of my fries and sandwich and a few bucks for the bus. You’re the best brother, I hope you made it to your next destination.
Your friend in food,
An Ode To Chicago's Most Famous Cuisine, From Iowa's Doc Kaalberg
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
An Ode To Chicago's Most Famous Cuisine, From Iowa's Doc Kaalberg

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