LINCOLN PARK — Chicagoans savored the hated Packers’ dramatic Saturday night playoff loss by chowing down on free, all-you-can-eat Wisconsin cheese fries courtesy of a local institution that loves sticking it to the Bears’ archrival.
The Wieners Circle, the beloved hot dog stand in Lincoln Park known for roasting its customers, posted on Friday that if the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional series, they’ll “be giving away all you can eat fries topped with Wisconsin’s finest cheddar, to all bar patrons who would like to celebrate. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t won a super bowl since Obama’s first term.”
After San Francisco kicker (and former Bear) Robbie Gould sent the Packers packing with a last-second, game-winning 45-yard field goal, cheese started flowing onto fries at Devin Hester speed. Bears fans like Zach Falberg and his girlfriend Samantha Brooks stopped by the hot dog stand and bar at 2622 N. Clark St. on Sunday to inquire about the perk.
“We were at the bar watching the game, Robbie Gould hit that kick, and then I’m just scrolling on TikTok and it’s just like, ‘Oh, there’s free cheese fries,’” Falberg said. “And f— the Packers, right?”
San Francisco 49ers Quarterback and Arlington Heights’ very own Jimmy Garoppolo agrees. After Saturday’s game, cameras picked up Jimmy G celebrating by telling Gould, “F— the Packers.”
The Wieners Circle’s historic billboard, retooled in recent years to disseminate the collective psyche of Chicago sports fans, shamelessly quoted Garoppolo for Sunday’s promotion.
“We love to troll the Packers and Aaron Rodgers,” said Sarah Levine, head of social media and marketing for The Wieners Circle. “The only thing we like about Wisconsin is their amazing cheddar cheese.”
The Packers’ playoff loss tastes like vengeance for Bears fans this year, coming after Rodgers sealed a Week 6 victory at Soldier Field by telling the crowd, “I still own you.” Rodgers, who is 22-5 all-time against the Bears, said he didn’t regret his comments before he beat them again in Week 14 at Lambeau Field.
The Wieners Circle fired back. They rearranged the letters on its billboard to roast Rodgers for his anti-vaccination comments, reading, “‘I own you Aaron Rodgers’ – Science.”
Levine said the business has required full vaccination for employees since it reopened in October with a renovated backyard patio and bar.
“He’s trying to spread false information about the virus and vaccinations in general, so we wanted to stick it to him,” Levine said. “We feel strongly about wanting to keep our city safe and stay open as a business. Rodgers is annoying.”
Lifelong Bears fan Deon Smith put on his favorite Bears jacket and Bears-themed mask and drove from his home on the South Side for some free cheese fries. He said he did it because, “The Packers disgust me.”
“And not to mention when Aaron Rodgers said, ‘I own you,’ it was total disrespect. Total disrespect,” Smith said. “So I said ‘Hey, I’m bringing my ass up here today.’”
Smith paused to take a big bite of his cheese fries, nodding his head.
“I wanted to show these Green Bay fans, welcome,” Smith said. “We’re both in the same boat. We’re both at home. Watching playoff games and eating cheddar fries.”
Bears fan Quinn Long brought along his friends and two young sons and made sure everyone got their own cheese fries. Long rolled his eyes at the mention of Aaron Rodgers.
“How explicit can I be?” Long said. “Aaron Rodgers can eat it. Today we’re stepping on cheese heads and eating cheese fries.”
Long said The Wieners Circle “is one of those legendary spots that my parents always knew about, but never told me for obvious reasons.” The infamous late-night hole-in-the-wall has long been known for asking its customers, “What the f– do you want?” It’s become a destination where tourists and Chicagoans alike can engage staff in the fine local art of arguing.
A new ownership group purchased The Wieners Circle in 2017, Levine said, and brainstormed ways to put fresh spins on its nostalgic roasts. The billboard, which went up along with the business in 1983, stopped showing the daily specials and started trash-talking former President Donald Trump.
Fan-favorite signs read “All people welcome in this shithole” and “Tiny hands, tiny wiener, tiny heart, free the kids.” They started selling a Trump footlong that was actually a mini-hot dog.
Patrons often submit ideas for the billboard, Levine said, which can fit up to 60 characters. Rodgers has become a routine target for the big-mouthed Chicago hot dog stand.
Long-time employee Evelyn Morris said the Rodgers beef has rallied The Wieners Circle community. The sign brings in customers that aren’t even hungry.
“Now people actually come and see us just to make us feel special,” Morris said. “Because they love the sign. It’s a family thing.”
Every morning bartender Zach Osipczuk puts up a new sign with a 12-foot-long suction cup pole. He said the business is all-in on the modern means of trolling. Photos of the signs usually receive thousands of likes on Twitter and Instagram. Legendary late-night insult artist Poochie Jackson recently started selling rude Cameos for $50 a pop.
“The sh– talking will always be what makes this place,” Osipczak said. “And it’s always rooted in this neighborhood. It’s kind of a clean-cut, easygoing neighborhood, and this is something that will always cut right through all of that.”
Long appreciates that The Wieners Circle has “kept to its culture” by trolling through its old-fashioned billboard.
He can only hope the sign knocks Rodgers down a few pegs.
“No matter where you are in your life, how successful you feel you are, you come here and it’ll bring you back to earth a little bit,” Long said. “You get the roast that you so long deserved. Because at the end of the day, we all bleed red.”
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