Mother-in-law (sandwich)

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Place of originChicago
Main ingredientsTamale, chili, hot dog bun
Chicago-style tamale, used to make a mother-in-law

The mother-in-law is a fast food dish of Chicago, consisting of a tamale topped with chili, served in a hot dog bun.[1][2][3] The mother-in-law is made with Chicago's unique style of tamale, a machine-extruded cornmeal roll wrapped in paper instead of corn husks, which is typically cooked in a hot-dog steamer.[4][5]


Although African-Americans migrating from the Southern United States may have brought tamales to Chicago,[6] no one knows how this sandwich developed.[7][8] Some speculate it may have had its beginnings in Mexico City's torta de tamal, a tamale on a bolillo. The precise origins of the Chicago-style tamale are also obscure.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Making a Mother-in-Law Sandwich", NPR, May 19, 2007. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  2. ^ Kindelsperger, Nick (November 9, 2012). "Fat Johnnie's Mother-In-Law Deserves Fame", Serious Eats. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "Delta Tamales in Chicago: The Mother-in-Law Sandwich", Southern Foodways Alliance. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Zeldes, Leah (December 18, 2009). "The Unique Chicago Tamale, a Tuneful Mystery", Dining Chicago. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "'Mother in Law' = 'Tamale with Chili'",, May 31, 2005. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Sula, Mike (September 16, 2013). "The Great Tamale Migration". Chicago Reader. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Sula, Mike (May 15, 2008). "On the Trail of the Delta Tamale", Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  8. ^ Katz, Jamie (April 19, 2009). "Searching for a Mother-in-Law Sandwich", Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved January 23, 2016.