Historian to share 'The History of Iconic Chicago Foods' Aug. 28

Chicago's culinary reputation is long-standing and worldwide with many award-winning chefs and acclaimed restaurants in its ranks.

But perhaps the most famous cuisine of all to hail from the Windy City is the more common fare that people know the best; it's the humble hot dog, pizza and Italian beef sandwiches from stands and neighborhood joints that generate the most love and notoriety across the globe.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, historian and author Leslie Goddard will explore the history of these notable Chicago dishes and a few other specialties with an illustrated lecture, "Iconic Chicago Foods," at the Elmhurst History Museum.

The program takes place at 2 p.m. in the museum's Education Center which is located just south of the museum at 120 E. Park Ave. in Elmhurst.

Cost is $5 or free to Elmhurst Heritage Foundation members. Reservations are required and can be made online at

Goddard's program will examine the history of five iconic Chicago foods and their relationship to the city's patterns of immigration, creativity and cultural traditions that led to their storied fame. Her interest in the subject has been developing over many years.

"I've always been interested in food history, partly because it's a fun topic but also because it really tells us a lot of about a region's history," Goddard said. "In writing my book, 'Chicago's Sweet Candy History,' and researching a video I put together a few years ago on the history of Italian beef, I got interested in the history of local foods and what they tell us about the Chicago area's history, economy and values. "

"This talk is an extension of that earlier research," she continued. "I take a look at deep-dish pizza, the Chicago-style hot dog, Italian beef, Frango mints and Eli's cheesecake - and ask, why did these foods in particular become iconic for Chicagoans? What traditions do they represent, and what do they tell us about the Chicagoland area?"

Goddard brings her Iconic Chicago Foods program to the Elmhurst History Museum to connect with the current exhibit, "Eat Your Heart Out: Iconic Chicagoland Foods," which is on display through Oct. 2.

The exhibit focuses on the three stalwart pillars - mainly pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef - to learn about the origins of these famous Chicago specialties as well as the often-colorful innovators and establishments that earned the devotion of generations of foodies. Admission is free and more information can be found at

Make a reservation to reserve a spot for the Iconic Chicago Foods program with Leslie Goddard at the Elmhurst History Museum on Aug. 28.

Limited free parking is available in the museum parking lot and in nearby City of Elmhurst garages. For the latest information, visit

The Elmhurst History Museum is a department of the City of Elmhurst supported by the Elmhurst Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. General admission is free. For more information, call (630) 833-1457.

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