Coney Island hot dog
|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Michigan|
|Main ingredients||Beef or beef and pork European-style Vienna sausage with lamb or sheep casing, beef heart-based sauce, yellow mustard, white onion|
|Cookbook:Coney Dog Coney Dog|
A Coney Island Hot Dog (or Coney Dog or Coney) is a natural-casing beef or beef and pork European-style Wiener Würstchen (Vienna sausage) of German origin having a natural lamb or sheep casing, topped with a beef heart-based sauce, one or two stripes of yellow mustard and diced or chopped white onions. The variety is a fixture in Jackson, Flint, Detroit, Kalamazoo, southeastern Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. A coney dog is not to be confused with a chili dog, a more generic ground beef-based chili-topped hot dog. A similar item called a Cheese Coney is found on menus at many Cincinnati area restaurants, also developed by Greek and Macedonian immigrants, but using a ground-beef base for the meat sauce.
In 1913 the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce in New York banned the use of the term "hot dog" on restaurant signs on Coney Island. This action was caused by visitors taking the term too literally, assuming there was dog meat in the sausage itself. Because of this action by the Chamber of Commerce, immigrants passing through the area didn't know the sausage in a bun by the American moniker "hot dog". Instead, the handheld food would have been known to immigrants as a "coney island". The style originated in the early 20th century in Michigan, with competing claims from American and Lafayette Coney Islands (1917) in Detroit, and Todoroff's Original Coney Island (1914) in Jackson. The longest continuously operated Coney Island (in the same location) is in Kalamazoo, Michigan (1915).
Detroit style: In Detroit historically many Greek and Macedonian immigrants operated Coney islands, or restaurants serving Detroit Coney dogs. By 2012 many Albanians began operating them as well. The Greeks established Onassis Coney Island, which has closed. Greek immigrants established the Coney chains Kerby's Koney Island, Leo's Coney Island, and National Coney Island during the 1960s and early 1970s. All three chains sell some Greek food items with Coney dogs. National has most of its restaurants on the east side of the city, and Kerby's and Leo's have the bulk of their restaurants on the west side of the Detroit area.
Flint style is characterized by a dry hot dog topping made with a base of ground beef heart, which is ground to a consistency of fine-ground beef. Some assert that in order to be an "authentic" Flint coney, the hot dog must be a Koegel coney and the sauce by Angelo's, which opened in 1949. However, the sauce was originally developed by a Macedonian in 1924, Simion P. (Sam) Brayan, for his Flint's Original Coney Island restaurant. Brayan was the one who contracted with Koegel Meat Company to make the coney they still make today, also contracting with Abbott's Meat to provide the fine-grind beef heart sauce base. Abbott's still makes Brayan's 1924 sauce base available to restaurants through the Koegel Meat Company. Restaurants then add chopped onions sautéed in beef tallow, along with their own spice mix and other ingredients, to Abbott's sauce base to make their sauce.
Popular folklore perpetuates a myth that a Flint coney sauce recipe containing ground beef and ground hot dogs is the "original" Flint Coney sauce recipe. Variations on this story include either that a relative of the storyteller knew or worked with the former owner of Flint's Original and received the recipe from them, or that the wife of the owner of Flint's Original allowed the publication of the recipe in the Flint Journal after his passing. Ron Krueger, longtime food writer of the Flint Journal, included it in a collection of recipes from the newspaper but without a cited source, unlike the rest of the recipes in the collection. When asked about this Mr. Krueger replied, “That recipe appeared in The Journal several times over the years. [I don't] think I ever saw it in the context of a story or ever saw any attribution. It always included the word ‘original’ in the title, but anybody who knows anything knows otherwise.” As to the second myth of Brayan's wife later allowing the publication of the recipe, Velicia Brayan passed away in 1976, while Simion Brayan lived until the age of 100, not passing until 1990. The actual source of this recipe appears to be an earlier Flint Journal Food Editor, Joy Gallagher, who included the recipe in her column of May 23, 1978. In that column she stated she had included the recipe in an even earlier column. Her apparent source was "a woman who said she was the wife of a chef at the original Coney Island, and that she copied the recipe from his personal recipe book." Gallagher stated "I believe her". However, Gallagher also wrote, "I'm not making any claims". In the same column she also included a second recipe that used beef heart, which she wrote "came to me recently from a reader who swears it is the sauce served at Angelo's." The folklore has mixed the supposed sources of the two recipes in this column from Gallagher, with people claiming the ground hot dog recipe is reportedly from Angelo's. In his column published in the Flint Journal on April 18, 1995, Food Editor Ron Krueger reported taking Gallagher's ground hot dog recipe directly to Angelo's co-owner Tom V. Branoff, who refuted the recipe line-by-line. Gallagher's pre-1978 column is still being researched.
Jackson style uses a topping of either ground beef or ground beef heart, onions and spices. The Todoroffs' restaurants were some of the earlier locations for Jackson coneys beginning in 1914. However, those locations are now closed. The company currently manufactures and distribute their coney sauce for retail purchase at supermarkets or other restaurants. There are several other coney restaurants in the area, most notably Jackson Coney Island and Virginia Coney Island, both of which are located on East Michigan Avenue in front of the train station near where the original Todoroff's restaurant was located. These restaurants all use a blend of onion and spices similar to Todoroff's but use ground beef heart instead of ground beef for the coney sauce. The Jackson style was late to the usage of beef heart in the sauce, using ground beef prior to converting to ground beef heart in the early 1940s. Jackson takes their coneys very seriously. Each year Jackson Magazine or the Jackson Citizen Patriot have a best coney contest voted on by residents for all the restaurants in the area.
The following meatpackers provide Coney dogs and European-style Frankfurter Würstel (Vienna sausage) to restaurants and consumers:
- Koegel Meat Company
- Dearborn Sausage/National Brand
- Winter's Sausage
Many Coney Island restaurants make their own sauces from scratch. However, the different styles of sauces are also available from the following meatpackers:
- Koegel Meat Company: Detroit (Koegel's Hot Dog Chili Sauce) & Flint styles (sourced from Abbott's Meat)
- Dearborn Sausage/National Brand: Detroit style (National Coney Island Hot Dog Chili Sauce)
- Todoroff's Foods: Jackson style
- Abbott's Meat: Flint style
- Michigan hot dog, Michigan Hot Dog
- Coney Island, a type of diner in southeastern Michigan
- Coney Island Amusement Park
- Coney Island, New York
- James Coney Island, a restaurant chain in Houston, TX
- Cincinnati chili, used as a primary topping for what locals in that region call a "coney" (not a beef heart-based coney dog).
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- Yung and Grimm p. 2.
- Yung, and Grimm p. 21.
- Florine, Bob; Davison, Matt; Jaeger, Sally, Two To Go: A Short History of Flint's Coney Island Restaurants, 2007, Genesee County Historical Society
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- "FAQ". Flint Coney Resource Site. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
- "Angelo's Coney Island Sauce". BigOven.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- "Q: Where did the Flint Coney sauce recipe that includes ground hot dogs originate?". Flint Coney Resource Site. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
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- Flory, Brad. "Brad Flory column: Feeding Jackson's astonishing appetite for ground beef heart". MLive.com. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
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- "Todoroff's® Original Coney Island" website
- "Coney Island Hot Dogs, Kalamazoo" website
- "Detroit Coney's" coney website
- "Coney Detroit" book website
- "Coney Near Cape Cod" food website
- "Flint Coney Resource Site" coney website