Vienna Beef Opens Museum for 125th Anniversary

A hot dog suit and memorabilia at the Vienna Beef Sausage company's new hot dog museum, Wednesday, May 30th, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

A hot dog suit and memorabilia at the Vienna Beef Sausage company's new hot dog museum, Wednesday, May 30th, 2018. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

For those stalwart few who have watched this space, you already know that Vienna Beef hot dogs have me in their thrall. It’s the mesmerizing combination of garlic and snap that can make me float, like a cartoon dog, to a hot dog stand serving same.

Not an easy trick for someone over 250 lbs.

But that is the power and the hold that Vienna Beef has had on this city since the first dogs were served up at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, even as H. H. Holmes surveyed the crowds and licked his chops in search of other prey.

Today the good people at Vienna Beef (Mark Reitman – a saint!) have decided to open a museum to celebrate all those wonderful years of service, purveying the finest hot dogs in America, and perhaps the world – and I’ll stand on Doug Sohn’s coffee table in my paper lieutenant hat and say that.

Because it’s the purity of the thing. I’m sorry, but hot dogs should not be made of elk and gruyere. These dogs are consistent, dependable, and tasty. You couldn’t ask for more of a marriage partner. They deserve to be a bust in the Hall of Fame.

The new Hot Dog History Museum will have photos, classic ads (you can imagine the burnished, smiling faces in these), hand-painted signs, years of packaging changes, hot dog making equipment (perhaps not for the squeamish), and more cool stuff to highlight the evolution of Vienna’s iconic encased meat.

I'm thinking there should be a wall there, where people could post snapshots (remember those?) of themselves and their Dads or friends, having a hot dog at Wrigley Field. For a while, the ballpark lost its mind and let Sara Lee make their dogs. But Vienna is back, hopefully to stay. Imagine those wonderful, personal, historic photos and the collective sigh of a great memory of that day in the sunshine. We have too few.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. The anniversary celebration will culminate with an official party on Aug. 1 in the parking lot of the Vienna Beef Factory Store & Café, at 2501 N. Damen. Free food (wonder what that might be), music, and giveaways will take place. Mark your calendar.

I plan on wearing an H.H. Holmes style bowler.

Too soon?

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