Have you ever been on vacation and heard another traveler speak and immediately felt a sense of kinship? It seems that people from Chicago have an innate ability to recognize each other, even when they’re hundreds of miles from home. There’s no solid rule book just yet, but it’s safe to say you know you’re from Chicago when:
You know the proper toppings on a Chicago-style hot dog
Anyone from Chicago knows ketchup does not belong on a Chicago-style dog. The correct toppings are mustard, onions, tomato slices, sport peppers, pickle relish, and a pickle spear. After the hot dog is properly assembled, top it off with a shake of celery salt. A poppy seed bun is another key identifier of a Chicago-style hot dog.
You don’t pronounce the “S” in Illinois
If you’re from Chicago, you don’t pronounce the last letter in Illinois. When Chicagoans visit other states, their reaction is obvious when someone adds a sibilant sound to the end of Illinois. You can tell someone is from Chicago when they point out that the “S” is silent.
You know the real reason it’s called the “Windy City”
Chicago is windy. Really windy, especially with the Lake Michigan shoreline bordering the city. But that’s not the reason it’s called the Windy City. According to 19th-century editor Charles A. Dana, the city was actually given that nickname because the city politicians talked excessively and were full of hot air. Today, most people believe that the nickname is because of the wind, but proper Chicagoans know there’s another historical context behind the term, even if they don’t know Dana’s name.
You might need two different outfits in one day
The Midwest is a land of extremes. Chicago has its legendary lake effect, and during the shifting seasons like winter to spring or summer to fall, there are often days where it’s hot in the morning and very cool at night. People from the city often joke that they run the air conditioner in the morning and turn the heat on at night. Local advice is to wear layers if you visit the city during spring or fall.
You still call it the Sears Tower
Although the iconic skyscraper was rebranded “The Willis Tower” in 2009, after Sears Roebuck and Company sold the building, you know you’re from Chicago if you still call it the Sears Tower.
You’ve ridden on the L (and know why it’s called that)
Like many major cities, Chicago is excellent at providing many means of public transportation for its residents. If you’re from Chicago, you’ve most likely ridden on the L. If you haven’t been on the L, you’ve definitely heard it pass by many times throughout the day. The L is Chicago’s version of the subway. At times, this train runs below ground, sometimes it’s at ground level, and at other points, it’s elevated on rails above the streets. Originally called an elevated train, locals now refer to it as the L.
In fact, you know a lot of Chicago slang
Chicago has a lot of custom slang local to the city along with the L. The “th” sound is often pronounced as a “d” sound, giving Chicago residents words like dis, dat, dem, and Da Bears. You may also hear Chicagoans speaking about watching TV in the fronchroom, which is simply “front room” said very quickly. A lot of Chicago slang comes from the fast pace of speech common to the community.
You have that recognizable Chicago accent
While you don’t hear any accent when you’re in the city speaking to others, when you travel throughout the U.S. you may discover that your Chicago accent is easily recognizable in other states. Somebody has probably asked you if you’re from Chicago when you travel; the regional accent is quite distinct.
You often wear Chicago sports team apparel
They may not always be winners, but if you’re from Chicago you have a team. You can choose from the White Sox or the Cubs for baseball and you also root for Da Bears football team, the Blackhawks hockey team, and the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Chicago even has a professional soccer team called the Chicago Fire. Chicagoans generally wear their favorite team in some fashion, whether as a shirt, a jacket, or a hat. Many fans even get team license plates.
You can still sing the Superbowl Shuffle
While on the subject of sports teams and Chicago, one must acknowledge The Super Bowl Shuffle. The 1985 Chicago Bears recorded this famous rap song the year they won Super Bowl XX. If you’re from Chicago, you may not still know every line but you definitely know the chorus of that one. (Actually, you probably still know every line.)
You vacationed in Wisconsin Dells as a child
Since Wisconsin Dells is just a few hours north of the city, it’s an ideal getaway location for residents. If you’re from Chicago, your family probably vacationed in Wisconsin Dells while you were growing up. You’ve probably seen the now-defunct Tommy Bartlett Water Show and been on the famous Original Wisconsin Ducks, amphibious World War II vehicles.
You’ve gone to Taste of Chicago
Taste of Chicago is a huge summer festival at Grant Park that offers a huge variety of foods to sample. You can have everything from fish tacos to calamari to hot dogs and hamburgers, barbecue ribs, fresh produce, cupcakes, and coffee.
You know the top three foods in Chicago – and they’re just never as good anywhere else
Chicago is definitely one of the world’s best cities for foodies. There are many foods popular in the city, but the top three might be Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and deep-dish pizza. No other city can beat Chicago for these dishes, and people who move away from the city often miss the food the most.
You know you’re from Chicago if this list made you smile! If you’re craving a deep-dish pizza after reading about the delicious Chicago foods, order online for delivery or carryout from Pequod’s Pizza and have a hot, cheesy pizza tonight.