I can remember it clearly. The first bite I ever took of a Mad Dog’s Chicago dog was just after I left The Plaza on a blustery winter evening. I didn’t want to go far to fill my groaning stomach, so Mad Dog’s was the natural choice.
What followed was pure ecstasy. The combination of a Vienna beef hot dog, grilled to perfection, topped with onion, mustard, tomatoes, neon-green relish and garnished with two gently placed sport peppers and a dash of celery salt was enough to make me forget about the miserable night I had been having. Since then, the hot dog brought me immeasurable joy in the face of all college breakdowns, academic or otherwise.
Mad Dog’s was my rock. As I moved from one apartment to another, drifting from coffee shop to coffee shop, it stood with its neon glow and consistently delivered. I could always count on meeting the best of hot dog connoisseurs and looked fondly upon the photos of all who had completed the foot-long clown dog challenge as I rejoiced at the culinary genius that is the Chicago dog.
Since then, I have embarked on many a Chicago dog adventures. I’ve tasted gourmet dogs topped with duck pâté, dogs straight from the Vienna dog factory and dogs made by a guy who probably hadn’t left Cook County in 45 years. There’s no doubt the best Chicago dogs in the world are in Chicago.
But there’s something about Mad Dog’s Chicago dog. It was my Chicago dog. And now it’s gone. I had my last Chicago dog at Mad Dog’s in the last hour the store was open. I didn’t cry over my hot dog because I knew that wasn’t how Mad Dog’s would have wanted me to mourn. Instead, I shared my meal with my good friends, reminiscing on the times we laughed and those times Mad Dog’s lifted our spirits. I can’t help but choke up thinking about the empty space where Mad Dog’s once was, but all I can do is cherish the memories I had there. You’ll be sorely missed, Mad Dog’s.