The Chicagoland Grocery Store Staple That Got A Shout Out In Season 3 Of The Bear

Contains spoilers for Season 3 of "The Bear"

After ending on a chilly cliffhanger in Season 2, "The Bear" has finally returned with its much anticipated third season. Spoiler alert: Carmy makes it out of that freezer. We won't give away much else, but — suffice it to say — we're still glued to our screens as chef Carmen, his family, and his staff act out all of their human foibles. The realistic portrayal of running a struggling restaurant by actor Jeremy Allen White and the rest of the cast makes the show engaging. Mr. Beef, the restaurant that "The Bear" is based on, is a real sandwich shop in Chicago's River North neighborhood, and many of the interior dining room and external street scenes were filmed on-site.

Adding to the authenticity are the dialects and everyday details of the characters. Take, for example, Jamie Lee Curtis as Donna Berzatto, aka DeeDee, who, in the Season 3 episode "Ice Chips," casually namedrops the grocery store Jewel-Osco. Okay, DeeDee doesn't really do anything casually, but that's beside the point. Jewel-Osco, or the Jewel, as she refers to it, is an iconic and ubiquitous supermarket that's as much a part of the Windy City as are Chicago hot dogs or Wrigley Field. Locals really do call it the Jewel, or Jewels for short, and referencing the 125-year-old business is a convincing nod to native Chicagoan realness.

Jewel-Osco's history from tea and coffee to fried chicken

Jewel-Osco has nearly 200 stores throughout Chicagoland, plus locations in Indiana and Iowa. In a 2024 Axios Chicago poll, it was chosen as the best all-time grocery store in Chicago. Now a local behemoth, the Jewel got its start from humble beginnings.

Founded in 1899 by Frank Ross and Frank Skiff, it began as a tea and coffee delivery service. Originally called the Jewel Tea Company, the business started with $700 and a horse-drawn wagon. The business grew and established more routes, and, in time, modernized into a fleet of trucks. In the early 20th century, the company started buying up markets in Chicago to be run as its own Jewel Food Stores. Expansion continued with the purchase of Osco Drugs in 1961, first operating as side-by-side food and drug stores. In the 1980s, the separate stores transitioned from being next-door neighbors to offering an all-in-one shopping experience. Now owned by Albertsons, Jewel-Osco is the grocer with the highest market share in Chicago (per Axios).

As for what makes the Jewel Chi-town's top pick, one reason is convenience. There are Jewel-Osco's everywhere in Chicago, the stores are open late, and they offer price matching. Customers are particularly fond of the deli's prepared foods, especially Jewels' fried chicken. Other favorites include potato wedge fries ('tater babies'), seven-layer taco dip, honey chicken wings, potato salad, lobster mac and cheese, and strawberry shortcake — which tastes extra fruity when made with olive oil.