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Every city has unique characteristics that makes it different from all the others. These characteristic defines the city and its people. Chicago is no exception. Below are seven of the many characteristics that define Chicago:

  1. Chicago Accent

The famous Chicago/Midwest accent, how can we not mention that? You can tell a Chicagoan apart from a tourist in one simple way, how they pronounce Chicago. Chicagoans will change the vowel sound “ah” when they pronounce Chicago. Native speakers will say change the vowel sound to either and “aw” or “aa,” as if they were saying “Chicawgo” or “Chicaago.” If you want to go deeper, when speaking, true Chicagoans will change their T’s to D’s. For example, when saying “that guy,” it sounds like “dat guy.” Next time you talk to someone who says they’re from Chicago, be on the lookout for those pronunciation changes.

  1. Hot dogs

The famous Chicago hot dog: an all beef hot dog with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. Did you read ketchup anywhere in that list? Nope. Chicagoans will give you trouble if they see you put ketchup on your hot dog. To Chicagoans, ketchup is something from a far off planet and should never be near your hot dog. Bottom line, don’t let a Chicagoan catch you, or your in for a world of trouble.

  1. Chicago Winters

Chicago winters are brutal and last until mid-April, early May. You know you’re from Chicago when the winter weather no longer gets to you. Living off the lake can cause some pretty nasty and long winter conditions. We’ve been through snow storms that were made for Minnesota, we’ve seen snow in March, there has even been 60 plus degree weather in February. If the winter weather is no longer a burden for you, than you know you’re from Chicago.

  1. Local Ethnic Food

People who are not from Chicago believe the best ethnic food can be found on Michigan Avenue, but as Chicagoans we know that is not the case. We know that the best places to find authentic ethnic food is in the neighborhoods that are predominately that culture, like Pilsen and Chinatown for example. To get authentic Mexican food people will visit Pilsen or little village, for Chinese people go to Chinatown. Chicago is home to a diverse range of cultures such as Polish, Italian, Irish, among many others. When we’re craving authentic foods, we know the best to go to find them is their respective neighborhoods, not Michigan Avenue.

  1. Say O instead of 0

This sounds strange right? Well, that doesn’t stop it from being true. A gate at Soldier Field is labeled as gate 0, but Chicagoans refer to it as gate O. No one really understands why, but I’ve experienced this first hand. It’s quite strange in my opinion, especially when you’re counting and include the number 0.

5…4…3…2…1…O?

Chicagoans have their ways, even if they are a little outside of the norm.

  1. St. Patrick’s Day River dying

You know you’re from Chicago when you start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a week early because the Chicago River has been dyed green. Dyed green? Yes, dyed a bright green to celebrate the Irish holiday of March 17th. Have you ever had to explain this event to a friend who’s never heard of it or ever been to Chicago? It’s a pain in the butt because you never have a real explanation as to why this happens, it’s always “it’s St. Patrick’s Day so the river is dyed green.” If you’re not from Chicago or familiar with the tradition, you’ll never understand.


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