Sunday, May 23, 2004

May 23, 2004

11:02 PM Special thanks to Kevin McCullough for his kind words about my new book, Beyond All You Could Ask or Think … Props to Mark Elfstrand, host of Mornings on WMBI. Last week the station played five devotionals by me at 5:12 AM each weekday as part of their “Breakfast for the Soul.” Between the worship services today I was pleasantly surprised by how many people told me they listened each morning. One person said that Mark mentioned my weblog and told people to check it out. So thank, Mark, for the spreading the word. 10:43 PM The results have finally been tallied in The Great Chicago Hot Dog Challenge. The computers worked overtime all day and into the evening hours trying to determine a winner. Basically the results turned out to be a dead heat—like the 2000 election results in Florida. Therefore, we have resorted to counting chads—in this case, the crumbs left over from the hot dogs to see if we can determine a winner. First, the comments by the distinguished judges: Ted King: Based on the scoring system we had, both ended up in a dead tie. So I guess we will have to go to nuance. I will have to give the nod to Parky’s on the bun. The bun at G and J was a little drier. (1 point to Parky’s). The weiner goes to G and J. It was better looking and had more taste (2 points to G and J), but it wasn’t as plump and juicy (Take 1 point away). Toppings: there was one more topping (tomato) on the Parky’s dogs than G and J and the quantity of topping was more with Parky’s. The tomato made a difference that I liked. I would give a point to Parky’s for this one. French fries: G and J’s fries were greasier but Parky’s were crispier. Call it a tie. Drinks: the nod to Coke and Parky’s but that was part of the first round of scoring. Basically, Parky’s is a point ahead at this point. Parky’s is more expensive but they give you more food. Call that one a wash. G and J had a much bigger parking lot and they need it. It is also easier to get into and out of the parking lot at G and J. I would give them a point for that and make it a tie again. However, we are talking hot dogs here and not aesthetics. (I never thought I would see the day that I used used hot dog and aesthetics in the same sentence. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think?) It is a very close call but I think I would have to give the nod, and a very slight one at that, to Parky’s. Steve Boisse: On a rainy Saturday afternoon, I had the pleasure of going to 2 Chicago area temples of haute cuisine, Parky’s in Forest Park and Gene and Jude’s in River Grove. The challenge, try to determine who puts out the best red hot. Let me review by category. Bun-they were both steamed and soft, not too squishy. Wiener-Parky’s was boiled and plump but had a very odd lack of color. While it did not affect the taste, looking at it did cause some concern as to freshness. Gene and Jude’s had a classic Vienna beef hot dog, boiled and nicely plump. Toppings-both had relish, mustard, chopped onions, and sport peppers. Parky’s offered a slice of tomato also. I think Gene and Jude’s condiments were a little fresher. Fries-it’s obvious both establishments know how to do fries, fresh cut and double fried. I am going to say the Gene and Jude’s came out on top since there was more grease at the bottom of the bag. I fear my friend Dr. King may prefer Parky’s since they were somewhat crispier but since I made the score sheet and rated oil soaked fries more highly, Parky’s cannot win this one. Drink-hands down winner is Parky’s, they serve Coke. I have never understood why Gene and Jude’s switched to Pepsi a number of years ago, I assume money changed hands, but this continues to be their Achilles heel to this day. So score wise here are the numbers: Parky’s Bun 4 Wiener 3 Toppings 2 Fries 3 Drink 1 Total 13 Gene and Jude’s Bun 4 Wiener 3 Toppings 2 Fries 4 Drink 0 Total 13 So it is a tie, at least in the numbers. In terms of atmosphere, I would have to go with Gene and Jude’s. While Parky’s has a nice outdoor area to eat, I think that Gene and Jude’s has that classic Chicago drive-in look. I also like being able to see the hot dogs put together at Gene and Jude’s. It should also be said that Gene and Jude’s has a much more limited menu. Your choices are dog, double dog, bag of fries, and tamale (and as Ray and I pondered, who ever thought of putting those two things together) Parky’s will give you the famous Chicago Polish, which my wife will attest is far better than a hot dog, on any day. The winner-the tasters. I recommend both establishments when you get the urge to not worry about what you’re eating. Switch off just to stay fresh, and one final note, if you can find a Cock Robin, or any other ice cream palace, get a milkshake or ice cream soda afterwards. That’s a little bit of heaven on earth and just may bring you closer to heaven. My own comments: I ended up giving both places 14 points. So we’ve got a three-way dead heat. Essentially it comes down to the French Fries since both hot dogs were very good. It just depends on what you prefer. Yesterday Parky’s was not as greasy as usual—but they were very hot, which I like. At Gene and Jude’s you can watch them slice the potatoes, throw them in the grease, pile them on the counter and then put them on top of the hot dog. I have to admit that’s an impressive performance. I should add that Parky’s gives you more fries—which is good value for the money. So no matter how we slice it, there is no clear winner. On the basis of points alone, I’ll declare this match a draw—or perhaps I should say that both places met the challenge admirably so no clear winner could be named. Our three-man bike team stands ready to test other culinary delights—Ted has already spotted a place in Forest Park that serves something called “Goldie Burgers” so maybe we’ll do hamburgers next time.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?