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Food in Illinois

Illinois is known for meat and grain processing and for signature dishes such as Chicago pizza.

Chain restaurants dominate the panorama in Illinois. After all, the McDonald's chain was born in Des Plaines when Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald restaurant there in 1954, after convincing the McDonald brothers, who were owners of a restaurant in California, to let him open up branches of their restaurant in Illinois. Although the original building was demolished, there is a replica in place containing a McDonald's museum.

The north of the state loves pizza and especially deep pan pizza and stuffed pizza, which have become a signature dishes for Chicago. There is a whole state out of Chicago, though, which is mostly fond of meat and potatoes. Mormons in Illinois, for instance, would eat baked ham, funeral potatoes, and Jell-O.

People from Chicago probably love Polish sausage and ribs, as well. Being such a large city, Chicago has some other food quirks. The stuffed pizza is filled with cheese, an inch of cheese once cooked, and it has an extra layer of dough on top. Toppings are stuffed inside and the pizza is covered in sauce, as usual. Italian beef sandwiches are very popular and they come with many optional extras. You may find a mozzarella cheese version, a sweet or hot peppers version, and giardinera - including hot peppers, carrots, celery and onions. One can upgrade an Italian beef sandwich to a beef combo by adding some Italian sausage, and having it with tomato sauce (that is red) or au jus (dipped) and Chicago hot dogs are also special.

Illinois foods

Vast flat grasslands have earned the "Prairie State" nickname for Illinois. Thanks to fertile soil and lots of rain, most of Illinois farm land is top quality and Illinois grows many crops, among them corn, soybeans, wheat, asparagus, pumpkins, and apples. Although it is a plant of European origin, a large percentage of the United States' supply, and probably the world's supply, of horseradish comes from Illinois.

Much livestock is raised, such as beef cattle and hogs. There are communities with an agriculture based economy such as Bloomington, and places where grain and livestock are processed for transportation such as Peoria, which also has distilleries and breweries.

Illinois is home to processed food companies such as Kraft Foods with brands such as Oscar Mayer, Louis Rich, or Jell-O, and it had a great chain of food stores, now closed, known as Dominick's Finer Foods where shopping for food was a great experience.

…and food events

Grape Festival, Nauvoo, September

Recipes from Illinois

Deep pan pizza

Prepare Chicago hot dogs using kosher sausages, no ketchup, and poppy seed buns. Garnish with sliced tomato, pickle spears, sport peppers, sweet piccalilly and season with celery salt. Grilled kielbasa - Polish sausage - can be served in a hot dog bun with kraut and peppers as the Chicago Polish version.


The Prairie State

Capital: Springfield

State animal: White tailed deer

State bird: Cardinal

State insect: Monarch butterfly

State tree: White oak

State Flower: Violet

Other Illinois facts

When French settlers arrived to the territory, around 1700, they found a native tribe called the Ilinwek - meaning the people - and most of the Ilinwek lived by a river, so they used the French ending "ois" to name that river the Illinois. After the French and Indian war of 1763, the Illinois territory was given to England.

In Detour, 1837, John Deere designed the first self-scouring steel plow with the steel of a broken blade and started and agricultural revolution.

Last time we checked, bars were still opening until 4:00 A.M. in Chicago.

Have cheese fries in Chicago.

Illinois sites

Official Illinois state site

Illinois historic preservation agency

Chicago visitor's bureau