Food/Groups

Chicago's Most Underappreciated Food Icon

Editor's Note: This is an episode of Food/Groups, Thrillist's YouTube series based on the deep, delicious relationships between different communities and the foods/food rituals by which they define themselves. Subscribe to Thrillist's YouTube channel and tune in for a brand-new episode every Monday.

Chicago is a city that adores its food icons. From pizza, to Italian beef, to hot dogs "dragged through the garden", the Windy City is an international beacon of intensely lionized foodstuffs. But there's one Chicago food tradition that flies so under-the-radar, even many Chicago residents hadn't heard of it before Chicago-born comedian Hannibal Burress penned a love letter to it in Chicago Magazine in February 2017. "If you live on the South Side or West Side and you go to a restaurant that has bulletproof glass, they probably have mild sauce," he wrote. "It should have Sriracha levels of fame." 

So we went to Chicago to find out why it doesn't. Along the way, we fell in with a who's-who of the Chicago sauce cognoscenti , from rap blogger-turned-chefCliff Skighwalker and entertainer Larry Legend, to award-winning poet Nate Marshall, to the crew of an entire damn podcast named for the iconic, underappreciated condiment. The question was a two-parter, but simple: what is mild sauce, and why doesn't it get the credit Burress (and countless Chicagoans) believe it deserves? Watch the episode above for an answer.