Vienna Beef, Ltd. is now hosting the Maxwell Street Foundation’s Vienna Beef sign that has been part of the Foundation’s collection since the 1990s. Mounted and displayed in the company’s corporate headquarters, the colorful sign is shown below with Tom McGlade, Sr. Vice President of Marketing/eCommerce at Vienna Beef, where it is on loan until Spring 2023. Behind Mr. McGlade and complementing the iconic hot dog sign is an enlargement of the 1960s illustrated poster of an oversize Vienna Beef Polish Sausage being hauled down Halsted Street at the intersection of Maxwell Street. The Maxwell Street neighborhood is where the Vienna Beef Sausage Company located their first manufacturing facility in 1893 until they moved out of the neighborhood in 1972. A symbiotic relationship developed between the company and food vendors at the historic Maxwell Street Market where Vienna Beef’s products were heavily advertised and sold on nearly every corner of the open-air street market. The colorful, 3′ x 5.5′ sign, handpainted on coated paper and mounted to board, had been taken to The Conservation Center by the Foundation in 2020 where it underwent treatment for cleaning, surface repairs, and the fabrication of a custom mounting system, largely funded through a generous grant from the Max Goldenberg Foundation. Through the Foundation’s website, the sign caught the attention of Linas Kelecius in 2021 who identified that the sign was painted by his late father, Jonas Kelecius, a Lithuanian immigrant artist and sign-painter by trade who generated signs for clients with hot dog stands in the 1950s and 1960s. Please see Jonas’ photo below working in his Bridgeport studio, lent by his son Linas.
For more information on Vienna Beef history, visit: https://www.viennabeef.com/chicagos-hot-dog/history-of-the-chicago-hot-dog/