Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chow Time: Superdawg Drive-In

"Hiya!  Thanks for stopping."

Several years ago, I was sent on a work trip to Chicago.  As a diehard fan of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I could have spent my first time in the "Windy City" recreating his infamous ditch day - the Willis (née Sears) Tower, the German-American Steuben Parade, the Cubs game - but eating pancreas at a snooty (snotty?) French restaurant was simply not in the cards.  Instead, I dragged my coworkers along on an epic journey (a train and two busses) to consume organ meats of a more mysterious variety in an atmosphere more peculiarly American.

Superdawg Drive-In (est. 1948) - Chicago, IL

Luckily, my pals were good natured and up for a bit of old-timey adventure.  Nevertheless, I did get the feeling that they were stunned by the fervor with which I made the pilgrimage to my hot dog holy land, Superdawg Drive-In.  I couldn't help but notice their stares as I consumed the titular foodstuffs with unprecedented gusto.  And there was no denying the borderline contempt I felt from them when I spent upwards of $80 on Superdawg souvenirs.

Imagine this times ten!

I think I was so busy scarfing hot dogs and stocking up on t-shirts, keychains, and plush hot dogs that I managed to capture but a single photo from the trip.

Mr. Tiny and Lindsay posing with/as Maurie & Flaurie, the anthropomorphized-
sausage representations of Superdawg's founders, Maurie and Flaurie Berman.

The gun show had obviously gone to Winnetka that day...

Typically, one photograph does not a blog post make.  So, when my brother and sister-in-law announced a summer trip to the Midwest, including a stop at the original Superdawg location, I told them that they had to dedicate a dawg to me (and take a lot of pictures).

We were first made aware of Superdawg Drive-In by one of the most brilliant documentaries ever made, A Hot Dog Program.  Raised on PBS, my younger brother and I would watch and watch and watch again Rick Sebak's magnum opus; every time it appeared on one of the local stations, we vowed to visit each one of the historic hot-dog emporiums before we died (likely of hot dog overdose/coronary disease).

I think he ordered a Whoopercheesie
(cheeseburger) just to be on the safe side.

Initially, Superdawg's rather severe facade can be slightly off-putting.  When I think of a friendly, '40s-era, neighborhood hot dog stand, rarely do I picture a stark, black box.  While Superdawg has always been family-owned, it has definitely endured its fair share of "updates" over the decades (dining room addition, awnings for the drive-in, etc.).  One need only look to the rooftop statues, however, to recognize Superdawg's enduring legacy of wacky tacky.

Images of the rooftop statues are recreated everywhere, even
on the restroom doors.  Having worked with many a Chicagoan
at a Chicago-based company, I am tickled to see it referred to as
the washroom.

Undeterred, even after getting grief from locals about it being a corny place for tourists only, my brother and sister-in-law made the trek to Superdawg Drive-In.  True to their word, they not only took a lot of photos, they also ordered a lot of food.  I'm pretty sure they got one of everything on the menu.

I think this is the Whoopskidawg.
"Whoopski...did I order that?"

I am much more of a purist; if you can call a hot dog in a poppy-seed bun, dressed with mustard, onions, neon-green relish, a dill pickle spear, pickled green tomatoes, and sport peppers, all "contentedly cushioned in Superfries" pure.

Make no mistake, the proprietary hot dog recipe makes the dawgs at Superdawg incredible!  Although, what keeps me wanting more is the packaging.  Every cup, every box, every bag is adorned with charming sayings alongside amazing illustrations of Maurie & Flaurie.

I mean, look at Maurie on that lounge chair surrounded by the words, "Your Superdawg
lounges inside, contentedly cushioned in Superfries and comfortably attired in..."
"Hiya! From the bottom of my pure beef heart...thanks for giving me this chance to serve you!"

Who could resist?!?!!

She was so taken by the packaging, she forgot her usual
order does not include  a hot dog with "the works."

But I say, "When at Superdawg, order the Superdawg!!!"

Sometimes, the best thing to do as a tourist is to visit the touristy places; I couldn't forgive myself if I went all the way to Barcelona without visiting La Sagrada Familia.  And touristy or not, hunger be not proud.  If the nearly-seventy-year-old Superdawg Drive-In was the city's only representation of the way Chicagoland does hot dogs, then I am ready to declare Superdawg as the real "Sausage King of Chicago!"  They get every "dawggone" detail right, right down to the style in which they serve their legions of loyal patrons.

"I'm doing my darnd'est to serve every item, every time, to every customer, in a manner to make you want to return...and bring your friends with you."  If that is Superdawg's mission statement, then it is working.  As if I wasn't already in a constant state of desperation for a Superdawg myself, I am always thrilled to bring my friends with me by ringing the "Chow Time" bell for the best hot dogs in town!

Superdawg Drive-In
6363 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL



Mr. Tiny


  1. i love their logo so much. especially that sweet hot dog lady. i also love that your brother looks just enough like you that he looks like you disguised in a wig and beard!
    Who cares if it's just for tourists! I don't even eat meat and I'd go by just to see those statues! So so so cute.

    1. Now you've got me wondering if I should I have just pretended that it was me? Hahaha! Maurie & Flaurie are the greatest!!! But I'm kind of surprised that they don't have veggie options; even still, it is totally worth a stop if you're in Chicago.