The Real Difference Between Chicago-Style Hot Dogs And Regular Hot Dogs

You may know the Windy City for its deep-dish pies, but Chicago is one of the lucky spots on the map where dinner options are aplenty, thanks to a multitude of classic local foods. So if you're ever visiting Illinois and you don't exactly want pizza for the third night in a row, trust us: Get a Chicago-style hot dog instead.

You may wonder what the difference between a Chicago-style and a regular hot dog is anyway, and that's totally fair – we're here to help! The first big distinction lies in the dog itself. Hot Dog Chicago Style says that a true local dog must have a good "snap" to it, which is essentially that little bit of resistance you get when biting into the beef's casing. The site also notes that most Chicago vendors – 80 percent, to be precise – are loyal to Vienna® Beef Hot Dogs, which are some of the freshest in the hot dog game.

The brand even proudly features the association on its site, dubbing Chicago "The City Built on Vienna Beef." Homemade franks may have their own great "snap," but they'll never quite be a Chicago-style dog unless they're made from Vienna® Beef.

A Chicago-style hot dog is nothing without its toppings

The easiest way to tell a regular ol' dog from a Chicago-style one is simple: Look at the toppings. If you see ketchup, it's not from the Windy City. As a matter of fact, a hot dog vendor outside the Shedd Aquarium even has a sign up that says "must dance for ketchup" – it's that laughable to locals (via Chowhound).

Excluding the ketchup, most Chicago-style hot dogs come with so many toppings that they actually feel heavy compared to your regular cookout fare. According to Block Club Chicago, most Illinois franks start with a poppy seed bun. From there, vendors build up the toppings – known to locals as "the works" – in a very specific order to maximize the flavor in every bite.

For those taking notes, here's how to recreate the Chicago-style dog at home: Start with mustard, then add (extra) relish, onions, tomato wedges, a whole pickle spear, sports peppers, and top with a dash of celery salt. If you're used to the average boiled hot dog with ketchup, then just know that every bite will be a messy one – and totally worth it.