One of my favorite memories growing up was going back to my parents’ old neighborhood in Berwyn and visiting local favorites like Vesecky’s Bakery for wonderful European-style pastries such as kolacky; D’Andrea’s Italian Market with their homemade Italian sausage and sliced-to-order lunchmeats; and then stopping for lunch at Parky’s Hot Dogs on Roosevelt Road.
The Berwyn location has since closed, but the Parky’s on Harlem Avenue in Forest Park is alive and well. They serve the quintessential hot dog with mustard, relish, finely chopped onions, tomatoes and sport peppers.
The best part is their hand-cut French fries. First, they put a huge scoop of fries in a brown paper lunch bag and then they place the hot dog wrapped in wax paper on top. Part of the charm and nostalgia for me is that the grease begins to seep through the bag. Sipping on a large icy cola, sitting on the outdoor picnic bench and watching the busy traffic on Harlem Avenue is now a summertime tradition for me and my three grown kids.
Hot dogs are part of the “Celebrating the American Spirit” events at Naper Settlement. During a special presentation from 2:30 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, July 22, hear Bob Schwartz, senior vice president of Vienna Beef, talk about “Chicago’s Hot Dog Passion.” He is the author of the book “Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog” and is an expert on the topic including the history of the hot dog and memorable local hot dog stands.
While there might be some debate about the use of ketchup on hot dogs, there’s no doubt that they are one of America’s favorite foods. The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council noted that in 2011 more than 700 million packages of hot dogs were sold at retail stores, which represent more than $1.7 billion in retail sales. If this has your mouth watering, you can enjoy a hot dog after Mr. Schwartz’s presentation on Sunday!
Visit www.napersettlement.museum for ticket information.