Turn on any prime-time sporting event featuring a Chicago team, and the national broadcast will almost certainly highlight a few local food items.
Of course, there are the big three of Italian beef, deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs — just one item shy of a Chicago tourist Mount Rushmore (Garrett’s Popcorn would like a word).
But just because a city is known for a certain kind of food, it doesn’t mean locals regularly consume it. For instance, while Indiana is known for its pork tenderloin sandwiches, that doesn’t mean Hoosiers are regularly eating pork tenderloin sandwiches or whipping them up for Super Bowl parties.
So that’s where we’re going here. You know what kinds of foods are associated with Chicago.
But how common are they at, say, a Super Bowl party?
Digging into Chicago Super Bowl cuisine
We’ll discuss Chicago’s most well-known food items and break down whether or not they are likely to be found at a typical Super Bowl party. Then, we’ll highlight some foods that aren’t usually associated with Chicago but are common at a Super Bowl gathering.
A tip for out-of-towners: Yes, Chicago is known for its Italian beef, and the sandwiches are very popular with locals.
Not all locals, of course. But Portillo’s vs. Al’s is the Chicago version of Starbucks vs. Dunkin.
What’s nice about Italian beef is that it’s ideal for a Super Bowl gathering. Restaurants offer party platters, but it’s also easy enough to cook them in the crockpot. And what is a Super Bowl party without something served from a crockpot?
Giardiniera is also key. For this item, the Chicago stereotype is accurate.
Grade: Pretty common
One man’s opinion: the typical Chicagoan will eat deep-dish pizza every now and then, but it’s more of a novelty than a habit. The average Chicagoan eats more thin-crust pizza than deep dish.
And thus, while pizza is commonly found at local Super Bowl gatherings, deep-dish pizza would come as a surprise. Not a shock, but a surprise.
So yes, it is ironic that when debating New York vs. Chicago-style pizza, Chicagoans generally prefer thin crust even if they are adamant to defend their side. Some good old-fashioned tribalism.
Perhaps this makes sense. Have you looked at the cover photo of this story? Deep-dish pizza can be a treat, but it’s … a lot.
Grade: Not that common
Chicago-style hot dogs
A Chicago-style hot dog has a steamed poppy seed bun and an all-beef frankfurter. Ketchup is definitely not allowed, and the dog is topped with mustard, relish, onions, tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear and a couple of spicy peppers.
Like deep-dish pizza, the typical Chicagoan will occasionally indulge in a Chicago-style dog. But they are not at all common at Super Bowl parties.
This is more of a Fourth of July item than a Super Bowl item. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, you’ll see pigs in a blanket fare more often at this type of gathering than the full-out Chicago dog.
Grade: Very uncommon
‘Non-Chicago’ foods that are popular in Chicago
So if not the stereotypical foods, then what?
Here is a list of food items that you’ll typically find at Chicago Super Bowl parties. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive.
- Fried chicken
- Thin-crust pizza
- Various types of dip — especially buffalo chicken dip and spinach artichoke dip
- Pulled pork
- Meatball subs
- Cocktail weenies
- Pigs in a blanket
- Mac n’ cheese
- Veggie trays (contrary to popular belief, some Chicagoans eat vegetables)
- Various desserts
The Rams will take on the Bengals in this year’s Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 13. The game will air on NBC and begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. CST, and you can bet on the Super Bowl at Illinois online sportsbooks.