Time for another edition of Classic Chicago, where we feature the people, places and things that make our city special.
Monday morning we're featuring Vienna Beef, maker of the popular hot dog. It's a Chicago tradition that goes back to the 1800's.
Jim Bodman is the big dog at Vienna, celebrating 45 years with Vienna just last week. Vienna Beef is a company that's been serving up high quality dogs to Chicagoans for more than a century.
"It has a connection with the people who live in the neighborhoods of Chicago," Bodman said. "Everyone in Chicago has a Vienna hot dog story. Our stories have to do with the Bulls, the Bears, the Cubs, the Hawks and the White Sox. The heart and soul of this broad shoulder city."
Vienna Beef got it's start right here in Chicago at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. A couple of Austria-Hungarian immigrants introduced their sausages.
"They applied for permission to have a hot dog stand on the midway during the Columbian Exposition and they were turned down for some reason," Bodman said. "So they opened up a little pop shack around the corner and they sold the traditional food from their home country and that's what caught on."
Boy did it catch on! Today, Vienna produces more than 250 million hot dogs a year.
Vienna's Director of Marketing Tom Pierce gave us a tour of their north side headquarters. This place just hums with activity.
It all starts with butchers who carve up premium domestic beef brisket - the trimmings are mixed in with premium lean bull meat, plus a secret blend of seasonings. No fillers, artificial colors, binders or flavorings.
Ultimately it's on to an assembly line and packaged up for delivery to your local store, stand or ballpark.
205 N. Michigan Avenue
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