The Sweet Hot Dog, Defying the Chicago Style, Is Having a Moment

Ketchup on a hot dog is taboo for many Chicagoans. Some hot dog stands and restaurants don’t even serve it; others give customers packets of ketchup because the employees don’t put the stuff on the dogs themselves. A true Chicago-style hot dog has onions, tomatoes, relish, a whole pickle skewer, and a sprinkling of celery salt, all on a poppy seed bun. The formula offers a mix of flavor profiles: not just savory and certainly not just sweet.

Or so one would think. Some hot dog spots in Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest not only up the sweetness, they turn hot dogs into actual desserts by adding elements like chocolate, froot loops, and even jelly beans (into the meat itself). I had a chance to chat with the creators behind five of these very strange flavor combinations.

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Ice Cream Hot Dog

Ice Cream Hot Dog

Ice Museum

Ice Cream Hot Dog

Hot Dog Type: ice cream hot dog It’s actually hot dog-flavored ice cream in a pink poppy seed bun with mustard and pickles. And of course no ketchup. An even sweeter version – with pink vanilla ice cream, strawberry sauce and sprinkles – is also available, alongside a special vegan pumpkin soft serve with graham crackers and sprinkles for Halloween.

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Available at: Museum of Ice Cream, only in Chicago. The sweet and savory versions are standard, but the pumpkin soft serve is just for Halloween.

Why: It’s a tribute to the Chicago hot dog, says Ryan Beshel, partner and creative director of SIX4 Creative. “We wanted to take this classic and give it a twist to get people thinking about the Chicago dog in a whole new way,” he says, adding that the museum has seen a variety of reactions from people who love him, and by those who don’t wear him ‘t. “But everyone who tries it leaves with a truly unique culinary experience.”

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Price: Ice cream hot dogs are included in general admission: $36 weekdays, $44 weekends

Churro Kong dog

Hot Dog Type: A corn dog coated in sweet potatoes and cinnamon sugar. Note that the Original Kong Dog and Potato Kong Dog can also be rolled in sugar. Covered in fruity rice puffs, the Rainbow Kong Dog can be made even sweeter with powdered sugar.

Available at: Kong dog. All Corn Dogs are available in every location including Lincoln Park, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chinatown in Chicago and Glenview, IL.

Why: “It’s common to have a great-tasting corn dog, and it’s been around for so long,” says Emily Han, Kong Dog’s marketing coordinator. “Adding something sweet makes our flavors unique and unique [it’s] something different for people to try.”

Price: $5 to $7

apple sausage and chocolate

Sausage type: Apple sausage with pear mustard and a piece of Vosges bacon chocolate on top.

Available at: Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug’s, created this incredible concoction. Hot Doug’s closed a few years ago, but you can make this one yourself by buying Vosges Bacon Chocolate (dark or milk) for $9 and Apple Pork Sausage at Paulina Market.

Why: Son says he wanted to try using locally made chocolate on a sausage. “Yeah, I’m not sure if that works,” he says, “but I really couldn’t stop eating it.”

Price: $9 for Vosges Bacon Chocolate, $11.50 for Apple Pork Links

Gummy Bears Brat Hot Dog

gummy brat

Wisconsin State Fair

gummy brat

Sausage type: It’s a bratwurst infused and topped with jelly beans more gummy bears, as well as honey mustard and relish, all in a brightly colored hot dog bun. The gums in the sausage melt as it cooks, so you don’t end up with a mouth full of meat and raw gum. The final concoction was placed in a blue or red bun from a local bakery.

Available: Leadfoot’s Race Bar & Grill at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. The Wisconsin State Fair is over, but the Leadfoots Race Bar near the Milwaukee Mile is selling the Gummy Bear Brat through September at events like the Harvest Fair.

If you miss your chance, you can try to get some jelly beans from Grundhofer’s Old Fashion Meats in Minnesota.

Why: Each year, the Wisconsin State Fair encourages vendors to cook “crazy food.” [Editor’s note: This happens in Texas as well] and that fit the bill. “As much as it was a crazy meal, we really want it to taste good,” says Patti Immekus, co-owner and manager of Leadfoots Race.

Price: $8.25

happy dog

happy dog

Elisa Schoenberger

happy dog

Hot Dog Type: A hot dog with bacon, pimentomac and cheese and froot loops.

Available: The Cleveland Guardians progressive field or Happy Dog Cleveland. It is available at the stadium throughout baseball season from the Happy Dog concession stand in the main concourse.

Why: When asked why it works so well, Progressive Field Executive Chef Vishwatej Nath said, “It’s a fun twist on a regular hot dog that’s ready to go.” Color and crunch in case you missed that.

Price: $11

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