If you grew up or lived in Schaumburg Township anywhere between the 1960s and 1990s—and especially if you were a Conant High School student—you probably have a special place in your heart for Hippo’s Hot Dogs. I’ve written about them before on this blog but had never seen a photo of the original trailer that started the business. Well, imagine my surprise when this photo recently appeared in my Inbox, compliments of Larry Rowan. Isn’t it a great shot? It’s a thrill to be able to post it here for everyone to see!
The business started in 1963 at the corner of Higgins Road and old Route 53/Rohlwing Road. It sat in an Airstream trailer next to a vegetable stand on the east side of the road, just north of the site of a former Shell gas station. They sold Chicago-style steamed hot dogs, tamales (!) and cold drinks from this trailer until 1969 when they built their long-time restaurant at the Hippodrome Plaza. The shopping center was named for them and sat on the northwest corner of the intersection of Higgins and Plum Grove Roads.
Judging by how brown the landscape looks in this photo, it must have been mid-fall on a day when it was still warm enough to be in shirt sleeves. Maybe the lady customer was taking these young boys (don’t miss the one between her and the little boy in the striped shirt) out for a special lunch while her older children were in school? Or it was just a way to get out of the house and not have to cook? There were not that many restaurants in the area between 1964 and 1969 and this probably would have been a reasonably priced lunch or dinner for the four of them.
It’s a wonderful photo with very vivid colors and it totally exudes the remoteness of the location before heavy development hit the area. One has to think that it closed during the winter. It would have been a coooold place to be if those steamers full of hotdogs weren’t going full tilt. Alternatively, it had to have been a hotttt place to be in the summer because it is sure doubtful there was air conditioning in that trailer in the 1960s!
If you have anything to add to this photo, please send in your comments. We’d love to hear from you. You may also read the first blog posting about Hippo’s here. And thank you to Larry for passing on this little piece of history. What a treasure!
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library