For the Love of Hot Dogs

Last week was the five-year anniversary of Derek and I’s First Official Date. We met in December and had agreed to keep things easy for a bit, but he decided to plan a not-Valentine’s Day date in Chicago for the two of us. I am often asked why I have such a love affair with hot dogs-and you’re about to find out.
To be fair, I’ve always found hot dogs tasty-they have to have the snap, the sweetness of the relish, the tart of the mustard, and the softness of the bun. That’s how I prefer my hot dogs-char grilled with yellow mustard and sweet relish. It was only several years prior to this epic life-changing February 15th had I discovered the Portillo’s Chicago Dog, SuperDawg with crinkle-cut fries, or my beloved Hot Doug’s (RIP) fancy encased meats.  Before that, I took my dog just as I described above.
During the short time Derek and I had been hanging out I had mentioned how amazing Hot Doug’s was (and all the other delicious foods in Chicago) and he planned a non-Valentine’s Day date for us for February 15th.  We started the day by waiting in the cold in the notorious-but-worth-it line for the encased meats at Hot Doug’s and by the time we left, I was feeling something in my belly besides hot dogs. Hot Doug’s is forever my #1 dog-because it was the best hot dog I’d ever had and because I started to fall for my now husband on that epic date to the encased meats emporium.
Here is a terrible photo of some of the hot dog memorabilia that was in Hot Doug’s. I really want those lights.
And here is a terribly edited ‘artsy’ photo of my favorite sign 🙂
Still quite possibly the best rendition of American Gothic was in the bathroom at Hot Doug’s
(Hot Doug’s sadly closed several years ago but has a spot in the bleachers at Wrigley if you ever want to try the best dog in the land. There’s also another place in Chicago that is similar in recipe to what Doug was doing, and I have found it to be good but alas, it’s not the same. Also, one time we were leaving another delicious but unfortunately closed restaurant in Chicago and Doug himself opened the door for me and I didn’t realize it until it was too late so luckily I didn’t faint but HE HELD THE DOOR FOR ME. I’m not worthy. I digress.)
After our first hot dog (yes, there were multiple that day) we walked around with his brother and then girlfriend checking out book stores and record shops. For dinner we hit up another reputable hot dog spot-Portillo’s. Sharing a chocolate cake shake with him was the seal on the deal-I knew that he was special-that was it.  We didn’t become official until that April but my heart knew that he was a keeper. Any person who is going to plan an entire date around hot dogs is probably a pretty fantastic person-but it has just kept getting better with time.
Hot dogs have been a way Derek has shown me he cares for me throughout our entire relationship. One time after a particular grueling Amtrak ride from where we live to Chicago (I was teaching someone else how to use the train) he picked me up at the train station and automatically drove to the closest hot dog joint. Another time he went out of his way to buy me legit neon green relish so I could have ‘real’ hot dogs at home. He also has never made fun of me for loving encased meats, so, that’s pretty swell of the fella, too.
The one thing that involved hot dogs that I had just never had the chance to do was to see the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile up close and personal. I was always like 10 minutes too late, or I would see it driving down the highway just out of my reach. It was always tragic, really. Until one day, somehow, Derek knew where it was parked! He made sure to take me to meet the wiener on wheels before I dropped him off for a flight. We took pictures, I gave it a hug, and I noticed that it had its’ own website.  So when I got home I started perusing the Wienermobile site and found out that you could request its’ presence at your event! At this point we were several months away from our wedding and I thought, “eh, what the hell?” I wrote out our  hot (dog) love story and invited the Wienermobile to our wedding. (Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the email I wrote but I promise you it was filled with puns about how wonderful it would be to have the Wienermobile as a guest of honor at our nuptials.)  I was told in an auto response basically to not hold my breath and that they would contact me a month before the event if we were selected.
I kept the hope in the back of my mind but a month before our wedding I had zero hot dog messages-so I let it go. I had way bigger things to think about at that point anyhow. So when a number showed up on my phone during a meeting three days before our wedding and left a voicemail I assumed it was one of the vendors (but probably spam because it’s always spam). As I walked to my car I went ahead and listened to the message and heard, “Hi this is *some wonderful angel* from the Wienermobile and I’d like to talk to you about your upcoming wedding!”
I died. It was the first time I can honestly remember ever being so overwhelmed that I laughed, cried, and screamed all at once. When I called Derek I was screaming so loudly that he thought I was in an accident. I could not control the sound of my voice. At all. Once I was back to my office I continued to scream. I screamed about the Wienermobile for a full 24 hours. Once I could finally contain my excitement I then had to call all of our vendors and explain that we needed to make room for a GIANT WIENER. Every time I called to secure parking I would have to explain exactly why the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile would be gracing us with its’ presence and every time I would hear a slight chuckle and get some response akin to, “that’s awesome!”
And it really happened ya’ll. On October 1st, 2016, a giant wiener pulled up outside our wedding venue with our initials glistening on the side. C + D in a heart on one side, “Just linked” on the other. And they didn’t just take a few photos and head out, oh no, they were there for the entire thing! The Hotdoggers (two of the sweetest people ever) drove us around town to take photos (at one point we had our own paparazzi following us!), took guests on rides, handed our wienie whistles, and even came to our reception!  We had been dubbed the wienie wedding by people who had seen the whole ordeal take place (we were married in the downtown district of our city-so it was kind of busy). After the wedding we went to an Oktoberfest that was taking place, too. I guess some guy went up to my sister-in-law and asked her if she had been in the wiener wedding that day. When she said yes, and offered to introduce him to the wiener bride, he looked like he had just met Her Majesty the Queen. It was a good day. Oh. And not a single person was shocked that we had a The Wienermobile at our wedding-surprised, yes. Shocked? Not at all. 
You know what I’m looking at here? I’m looking at the Wienermobile. It’s parked outside and it HAD MY NAME ON IT.
Our paparazzi was distracting us from in this photo.  
Our wonderful Hotdoggers posing with us  in true awkward prom poses. Derek was also distracted. These two were the best.
They even gifted us with our very own Wienermobile bank!

And that’s how it happened. folks. You know when you ‘like’ something and people find out and then they join in on the fun of you ‘liking’ something? I used to collect owls and people would gift me small owl trinkets and it was so sweet and heartwarming but now instead of owls…people give me hot dog stuff. And it’s freaking awesome. At work people even call me the wiener queen!
This is also how I became the Midwest Ambassador for the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council-because my admiration for hot dogs is so much more than just the taste-it’s my love story. If it weren’t for hot dogs, who knows where I’d be right now, but it probably wouldn’t be in bed next to my husband who I keep telling to stop talking to me so I can write (in a very loving way!)
Romance, with a side of relish, please. #noketchup