Perfect Recession Food?
Chicago loves its hotdogs....
PASCHALIS: A Chicago hot dog is an all beef hotdog on a poppy seed bun, and there's mustard, onions, relish, pickle, sport peppers tomato and celery salt.
That's Gus Paschalis. He owns and runs a hotdog stand called, I kid you not, the Weiner and Still Champion in north suburban Evanston.
PASCHALIS: Most people would say a hole in the wall, mom and pop type restaurant.
It's definitely a little divey. But you can get a dog and handcut french fries, that are fried to order for 3.50. Not bad, for a meal that contains most of the major food groups.
Turns out the Chicago dog has a good "pedigree" for surviving tough times. The Chicago style hotdog loaded with veggies and condimentsgot started back during the late 1920s. You could get your meal on a bun for a nickel; at least one hotdog stand called it a "depression sandwich." And while it may be overselling it a little to say sales now are "steaming" or "red hot" these days at Weiner and Still Champion, they're good.
PASCHALIS: We're actually doing better than we're doing last year.
The dinner time rush is pretty impressive for a hotdog stand. Melody Vogel's waiting on an order of french fries. She says she still has a job, she works at a nearby church, but she's more careful about how she spends money on food.
VOGEL: I'm trying to be a lot more conservative in what I buy. I grew up in a big family so I'm used to the make spaghetti and eat it for a week and make soup and add water.
She eats out less and she's more likely to go for cheaper options when she does eat out.
TRISTANO: Consumers are trading down. Rather than going to casual dining like an Applebees and paying at the $12-13 level they're shifting down to limited service.
Darren Tristano is an executive vice president at Technomic Incorporated, a food industry research firm. He says hotdog stands are set to capitalize on food trends-they're cheap, the food is fresh, customizable, portable, and he says Chicago hot dogs taste really good. All of which makes them a strong contender for a great recession meal.