Here in Missouri, folks don't get too uptight about how you dress your hot dog. Of course, you know that's not the case everywhere, like Chicago. Ask for ketchup on a hot dog at one of Chicago's hot dog / Italian Beef joints, and you're taking your life into your own hands. Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but you may get teased by those you're dining with, and you'll get the stink eye from the counter person. So, are Chicagoans wrong to say that ketchup is a no-no for adult hot dog eaters?

Yes, Chicagoans are wrong. Apparently.

According to a survey by US Foods, ketchup is the favorite hot dog topping of folks in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and even Missouri.

That's right, Missourians love ketchup in hot dogs.

Growing up around Chicago, that's a big no-no. WTTW's Geoffrey Bear tried to get some definitive answer on why that is, but there isn't one. Many, including myself, believe the sweetness of the ketchup doesn't play well with the spiciness of the dog.

Additionally, if you're eating an authentic Chicago-style dog with mustard, sweet relish, onion, tomato, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt, many feel ketchup would be redundant.

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Or it might be one of those identity things. Bill Savage, literary scholar and professor at Northwestern, told Bear Chicago's ketchup prohibition is more about identity than any historical reason. Ah, yes, it's one of those weird identity things Chicagoans want to hold on to and fight about.

Or do they? When I worked in the Chicago area, I asked the owner of Babe's Hot Dogs, The hot dog joint you go to in Joliet, if he felt ketchup on a hot dog was a no-no. He told me he couldn't care less how his customers liked their hot dogs; he wasn't losing any sleep over it.

I don't particularly care, either. My late wife Kathy, a Joliet native, always put ketchup on her hot dogs. My girlfriend, Stacey, a Missouri native, always puts ketchup on her dogs. I won't judge if anyone wants to put ketchup on their dog. I mean, really, who cares?

A lot of people do. According to Bear's research, Former President Obama says ketchup doesn't belong on hotdogs once you're over eight years old. Vienna Beef (The Chicago Hot Dog) executive Bob Schwartz titled his hot dog history book "Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog," and the late Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, while not willing to condemn folks for ketchup on their frank, certainly wasn't a fan and made that brutally clear in a column.  Dirty Harry Callahan had an opinion in "Sudden Impact."

Even the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says no to ketchup on hot dogs for adults. They also believe wine doesn't pair well with weiners, that sending a thank you note following a hot dog barbecue isn't in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs, and that a hot dog should be consumed in five bites. And they're the authority, right?


According to US Foods, 84% of Americans say ketchup is an acceptable condiment to top a hot dog. It comes in second, just behind mustard, in the US Foods survey of the top five hot dog toppings.

So Dirty Harry, Vienna Beef, The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, President Barack Obama, and snooty Chicago hot dog stand owners, you're wrong. Dead wrong.

Do I put ketchup on my hot dogs? Sometimes, in the privacy of my own home, yes, I will put ketchup on my dog if I'm craving a little sweetness with my meal. Out and about, heck no. I don't want my Chicago friends making fun of me.

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