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Lt. Gov. Simon Declares ‘The Onion Day’ In Honor Of Newspaper’s Move

The Onion

An honor box for The Onion newspaper at Wabash Avenue and Lake Street. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The very name “Chicago” is believed to be derived from a Potawatomie word for wild onions, and now perhaps the wildest of those onions – the one of the satirical newspaper variety, that is – calls Chicago home.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports, The Onion consolidated its operations in Chicago this month. The satirical publication’s headquarters had been in Chicago for some time, but its editorial staff was in New York City.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports

In honor of the move, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has declared Tuesday “The Onion Day,” and is giving the publication an official welcome during a Better Government Association fundraiser.

“No matter how you slice it, The Onion brings tears to my eyes,” Simon said in a news release. “From its spot-on satire of our politics, to its use of our web video tax credit, The Onion shows that Illinois is a great place to do business and that Chicago is a great comedy town. We encourage other digital media companies to make us their first choice for their international headquarters.”

The new Onion offices are located at 212 W. Superior St., in the River North neighborhood. The facility houses 100 employees from the Onion and its sister operation, the A.V. Club, and also includes a studio for video production.

“Our brand of journalism has a peculiarly Midwestern sensibility and, combined with the state’s generous tax credit for video production, we feel that we have landed in the right place,” Onion Inc. president and chief executive officer Steve Hannah said in the release.

The history of the Onion goes back to American colonial times — it was founded two years into the French and Indian War. The newspaper’s immigrant founder, Friedrich Siegfried Zweibel, founded the newspaper as The Mercantile-Onion in 1756, and the first edition of the Onion News-Paper followed in 1783 – coinciding with the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War.

F. Siegfried Zweibel’s grandson, T. Herman Zweibel, took over editorial control of The Onion in 1888, and was still contributing a column as late as 2000.

The publication has gained accolades for breaking the story in 2002 of Congress threatening to leave Washington, D.C., for another city unless the U.S. Capitol was retrofitted with a retractable dome, and for revelation just last month that Spaghetti-O’s had been discontinued due to discord in Franco-American relations – news that led at least one Facebook user to go to Costco and stock up with a dozen cases.

OK, you got us. The Onion was actually founded in 1988 by University of Wisconsin-Madison juniors Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson, and was distributed in Chicago, along with Milwaukee and Madison, in its early days.

The editorial staff moved from Madison to New York City in 2000, and announced last year that they would move to Chicago.