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The Italian Beef Sandwich: A Culinary Icon of Chicago

The Italian beef sandwich, a Chicago culinary icon, traces its roots back to Italian American home cooking of the 1920s, gaining prominence in the 1970s and becoming 'Chicago's sandwich' by 1989.

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The Italian Beef Sandwich: A Culinary Icon of Chicago

In the bustling city of Chicago, the Italian beef sandwich reigns supreme. Its rise to culinary fame in the city is steeped in history and cultural significance, from its humble beginnings in Italian American kitchens to its present-day status as a beloved icon of Chicago's rich food culture. With a recent surge in its popularity, driven by its prominent feature in the FX show 'The Bear', the Italian beef sandwich has secured its place at the top, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other Chicago food staples like deep-dish pizza and the Chicago hot dog.

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From Humble Beginnings to Culinary Stardom

The Italian beef sandwich's roots can be traced back to the 1920s, where it was a common fixture in Italian American home cooking and 'peanut weddings'. However, its commercial rise did not commence until the 1950s when it began appearing in restaurant advertisements. The first-ever recipe of the Italian beef sandwich was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1962, setting the stage for its eventual culinary domination in the city.

The Italian Beef Sandwich Takes Flight

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It was during the 1970s that the Italian beef sandwich truly took off. Tribune reporters began featuring it more prominently in the newspaper, cementing its status as a distinctive Chicago dish. By the time the 1980s rolled around, the sandwich's popularity had soared, with the Tribune finally declaring it 'Chicago's sandwich' in 1989. This was a significant milestone in the sandwich's journey to culinary stardom.

A Modern-day Chicago Icon

By 2005, the Italian beef sandwich was fully recognized as a Chicago icon. Its fame and popularity have been further boosted by the FX show 'The Bear', which revolves around a family's Italian beef stand. This recognition has further solidified the sandwich's place in the heart of Chicago's food culture, with it now being as synonymous with the city as deep-dish pizza and the Chicago hot dog.

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