Elmhurst Museum exhibit highlights Chicago’s hot dogs, Italian beef and pizza – Chicago Tribune
Foodies, history buffs and snack lovers will find plenty to digest at “Eat Your Heart Out: Iconic Chicagoland Foods” at the Elmhurst History Museum. Chicago classics – hot dogs, Italian beef and pizza – are the focus of the fascinating exhibit, which runs from June 24 to October 2.
Museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday to Friday; 10am-5pm on Saturday.
“We delved into the history of each of these food items,” exhibits curator Dan Bartlett said. “We started with a general background and then selected some really recognizable brands in the Chicagoland area that represent each of these foods very well.”
For hot dogs, they focused on Viennese beef and portillo. Other companies surveyed were Buona Beef, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Rainbow Cone. “These businesses all have very interesting stories related to Chicago and the suburbs,” Bartlett said.
What Bartlett found interesting about the origins of these companies is, “They’re just ordinary people who have the idea that their food or their recipe is unique,” he said. “Then their families end up building these iconic brands that we’ve had around Chicagoland for so long. Companies like Buona and Malnati are still family owned. Portillo’s has been sold over the past decade by Portillo for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Bartlett noted that companies like Vienna Beef promote a food culture. It has a Hot Dog Hall of Fame to honor major hot dog companies and Hot Dog University, where people can learn all aspects of running a hot dog business. Buona created National Italian Beef Day, which was May 27 this year.
“It’s murder on my diet,” said Dave Oberg, executive director of the Elmhurst History Museum, of his involvement in the exhibit project. He thinks it’s a great exhibit for the summer, when the museum is looking for “something that’s kind of fun, pop culture, but family-friendly, and that subject absolutely needs historical treatment.” It’s also a fun way to sneak into a lot of social history, as much of this food was created by immigrants and eaten by working men and women who want to stretch their money.
Oberg admitted he was fascinated by the Italian beef information in the exhibit.
“If you’re not from that area, it’s not very well known,” he observed. “We eat more Italian beef in the suburbs and in Chicago than in the rest of the United States combined.”
Oberg also noted that the giardiniera is unique to Chicago. “You don’t find giardiniera anywhere else,” he said. “We make over 100 different varieties.”
The exhibit includes historical photos, videos of old food advertisements, memorabilia, oral histories, and more.
Several fun events are planned as part of the exhibition, starting with a free picnic on the park from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 10. There will be games, crafts, face painting and live performances from the Scottie Long Duo. and Leonardo Music. The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and a 1929 Vienna Beef delivery truck will be there. The first 300 guests can enjoy a free small Rainbow Cone.
At noon on July 24, Bartlett will present a free talk with the curator.
Chicago Trivia Night at 7 p.m. on July 28 at Pints, 112 S. York St., will include two rounds of trivia games, one beer, and four individual appetizers for $30.
The Family Pizza-Making Workshop at 4 p.m. on August 3 will include pizza making and decorating a chef’s hat for $20 per person.
Plus, families can show up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 27, July 18, and August 8 for Museum Maker Mondays to explore the galleries, play games, and make free museum-themed crafts. the food.
On August 28, historian Leslie Goddard will give a talk on Iconic Chicago Foods at 2 p.m. The event is free for members; $5 for non-members. Goddard is the author of “Chicago’s Sweet History” and “Remembering Marshall Field’s”, among other books.
“People like to talk about food,” Goddard said. “As a historian, the more I delved into it, the more I realized it was a really fascinating historical subject.”
In addition to discussing pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef, Goddard will share information about Marshall Field’s Frango Mints and Eli’s Cheesecakes.
“Chicago has been this incredible center of candy production for decades,” Goddard noted. However, Frango Mints is not from Chicago.
“Frango Mints was developed in part because Marshall Field’s bought another department store chain in Seattle that had started making this little chocolate mint truffle. That’s how Field has the rights to it.
Eli’s Cheesecake was developed when the owner was trying to create “a signature dessert for his steakhouses in Chicago,” the historian reported. “Restaurants are gone but cheesecake becomes gangbusters.” Goddard will share more interesting stories about iconic Chicago foods.
And now for answers to burning food questions.
Italian Beef – Wet or Dry?
Bartlett: “I’m pretty dry. I’ve learned enough about Italian beef to be almost embarrassed by this answer, so I’m trying to learn how to eat it a little moister. I don’t think I’ll ever get wet.
Oberg: “It must be wet. There must absolutely be a baptism and there must also be hot giardiniera.
Goddard: “Wet. I like it soaked and with sweet peppers on it.
Pizza — thin or thick crust?
Bartlett: “I have to get thin. I enjoy the deep dish once in a while.
Oberg: “I love that cracker crust, thin and crispy, and I also love the giardiniera on it.”
Goddard: “I eat more thin crust, but there’s something about the deep dish that’s really special.”
What’s going on your hot dog?
Bartlett: “I like the Chicago hot dog minus the hot peppers and I’m not a big fan of the taste. Is it now an Elmhurst dog because it is close to Chicago but not exactly Chicago?
Oberg: “I like a dog from Chicago, but it’s once or twice a year. If we want to have “Dave’s dogs”, my ideal is poppy seed bread. I definitely want my butcher dog. He adds onions, mustard, sport peppers and a pinch of celery salt. “No ketchup ever.”
Goddard: “I like being dragged around the garden. The only thing I don’t like are the pickles. In the early days of preservation, hot dogs were often preserved with pickles. It’s pretty unhistoric of me not to put pickles on my hot dog.
“Eat Your Heart Out: Chicagoland’s Iconic Foods”
When: June 24-Oct. 2
Where: Elmhurst History Museum, 120 E. Park Ave., Elmhurst
Tickets: FREE ENTRANCE
Information: 630-833-1457; elmhurshistory.org/317/Upcoming-Exhibits
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.