One Summer Day: Nothing but the Big Outside and Cool Inside

It’s Meeker, Ohio. I’m ten years old and my brother Chris is around seven. We have Tamatchie Creek running behind our house, and thick woods. It’s a hot July day, which is perfect for exploring. We would call it that. “Let’s go exploring.” We have a makeshift bow and we use chopped down and sharpened... Read more »

Intestinal Fortitude: The Furious Saga of Nathan’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest

The 4th of July means one thing to hot dog patriots: the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, New York. This year happens to be the 100th anniversary of Nathan’s, the same year (legend has it) that four immigrants argued outside Nathan Handwerker’s hot dog stand on the Fourth of July, 1916, about who... Read more »

“Pay to Play” Muscle from Friends of the Parks Killed Lucas Museum

Although George Lucas is familiar with a kind of mythical Chicago gangsterism, having brought us the character “Greedo” in the Star Wars franchise, he probably never thought he’d meet his earthling equivalent – until Friends of the Parks tried to extort him. Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry’s latest maneuver is a proposal... Read more »
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When Muhammad Ali Dies, We All Do a Little

This one’s different. This one hurts more than some of the others. To say I was a fan of Muhammad Ali seems kind of silly. Who wasn’t? How could you listen to his patter – whether he was riffing on what the black experience was like or giving flak to Johnny Carson or Howard Cosell... Read more »

The Hot Dog I Almost Had with Jim Harrison

We lost America’s premier writer this week, and, America being America, Jim Harrison, though honored in small literary pockets and the subject of toasts among his readers and admirers, created hardly a blip in the Kardashiansphere. Literary Giant is a term that has its detractors, but in Harrison’s case, it was a truth: as strong... Read more »

Donald Trump and His Three-Inch “Footlong”

Donald Trump arrives in Chicago, with unprecedented ballyhoo, bravura, and spectacle for a rally at the UIC Pavilion. He’ll brag about it as a coronation. Most of Chicago will see it as a carny in a big room. Still others will see it as a business opportunity. Nelson Algren was right about Chicago being a... Read more »
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Heinz Loses Chicago in Super Bowl Ad

You don’t put ketchup on a hot dog. Not ever.  Everybody in Chicago knows that. We learned it early. We had it knocked into the knotty oak of our recalcitrant heads when we were little. And we lived it henceforth.  Some Super Bowl copywriter and creative director and big-time ad agency apparently don’t know Chicagoans... Read more »

Powerball Winning Numbers: A Selection Guide

It’s probably a good thing that the State of Illinois is not the only one guaranteeing the Powerball lottery. If it were, you’d go in to cash your $1.5 billion ticket, and you’d be laughed out of the Comptroller’s office, just like the  Illinois lottery claimants winning $600 or more have been since last August,... Read more »

Best Chicago Style Hot Dog? The Winner Is …..

2015 proved a challenging year in the hot dog wars, which is a war that is so much more fun to do battle in than other wars, and a winner has emerged. The Best Chicago Style Hot Dog of 2015 is a place that has stood its ground and held its position for 61 years:... Read more »
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Chicago Style Hot Dog Year in Review

Very soon we will be naming the winner of the 2015 Chicago Now Golden Weenie Award for the Best Chicago Style Hot Dog. To quote Willy Wonka, "The suspense is killing me ... I hope it lasts."
As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at all the hot dogs we’ve loved before in anticipation of crowning the winner of the 2015 Golden Weenie award for the best Chicago Style Hot Dog. We’ll be announcing the winner next week — watch this space. Meantime, let’s trek down Memory... Read more »