The Windy City's signature hot dog is famously sans ketchup.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 19, 2017
chicago dog sauce
Credit: Courtesy of The Kraft Heinz Company

In Chicago, people will put a lot of things on their hot dogs – often all at once. For instance, at the classic Chicagoan chain Portillo’s, a regular old “Hot Dog” comes with “mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers,” a style indicative of the rest of the city. But one ingredient is notably absent: ketchup. To many Chicago natives, ketchup on a hot dog is considered a sin.

But ketchup giant Heinz apparently sees this aversion to one of America’s most popular condiments in another light: That’s over 2.5 million customers the company is missing out on (at least when it comes to hot dogs). So leading up to yesterday’s National Hot Dog Day, Heinz came up with a new strategy for luring Chicagoans into putting ketchup on their dogs… trickery!

In a silly advertising stunt, Heinz released a “new product” it named “Chicago Dog Sauce.” The brand then went out and convinced locals to give this strange new sauce a try on their beloved hot dogs. A video supporting the campaign shows that many people dug this new red dog sauce… that is, until the big reveal. Pull back the label: “Chicago Dog Sauce” is actually just classic Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

Obviously, the entire thing is intended to be in good fun. Heinz even set up a website where people can order “limited edition 14oz glass bottle of Heinz Chicago Dog Sauce” for $5 (plus shipping) featuring the distinctly blue bottle designed just for this ad campaign. But though the taste-testers in the video seemed to take things in good stride, it’s also possible that some people might not take kindly to being made to look so foolish. “Never buying Heinz products again,” says the top comment on the YouTube video. Heinz may want to take that threat seriously. This is a city that was patient and dedicated enough to wait over 100 years for one of its baseball teams to win a World Series.