Coney Island hot dog

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Coney Dog
Flint coney island.jpg
A Flint-style coney (with dry coney sauce) at Rio's Coney Island in Flint, Michigan.
Course Main course
Place of origin United States
Region or state Michigan[1]
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Beef or beef and pork European-style Vienna sausage with lamb or sheep casing, beef heart-based sauce, yellow mustard, white onion
Variations Detroit
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 Frankfurter Würstel (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,[2] Detroit, southeastern Michigan,[1] and Fort Wayne, Indiana.[3] A coney dog is not to be confused with a chili dog, a more generic ground beef-based chili-topped hot dog. It is also not to be confused with what is called a "coney" in the Cincinnati area, which is a chili dog topped with the city's distinctive style of chili, along with onions and cheddar cheese.


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.[4] 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.[1]

Local varieties[edit]

Detroit Style[edit]

Competing, neighboring Coney restaurants in Detroit

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.[5] 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.[6]

Flint Style[edit]

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.[7] 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.[2][8] 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.[7]

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,[9] or that the wife of the owner of Flint's Original allowed the publication of the recipe in the Flint Journal after his passing.[10] 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.[11] 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.”[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Jackson Style[edit]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18]


The following meatpackers provide Coney dogs and European-style Frankfurter Würstel (Vienna sausage) to restaurants and consumers:

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

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Trop, Jaclyn (February 13, 2010). "Chicago's new import: Coney islands". The Detroit News. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Atkinson, Scott (March 27, 2012). "Michigan Coney Dog Project: Koegel's and sauce key to a Flint coney". Flint Journal. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Grant, Shane (February 6, 2013). "Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island – What’s not to Love?". Visit Fort Wayne Blog. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Mariani, John F., The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, 1985, ISBN 0899191991, 978-0899191997
  5. ^ Yung and Grimm p. 2.
  6. ^ Yung, and Grimm p. 21.
  7. ^ a b Florine, Bob; Davison, Matt; Jaeger, Sally, Two To Go: A Short History of Flint's Coney Island Restaurants, 2007, Genesee County Historical Society
  8. ^ Atkinson, Scott (March 22, 2012). "Flint-style coneys researched and defined in new book, "Coney Detroit"". The Flint Journal. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Gram's Flint Coney Island Sauce". Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Flint Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce". Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Kreuger, Ron (2000). Scoops. The Flint Journal. p. 21. ISBN 0-9649832-4-9. 
  12. ^ "FAQ". Flint Coney Resource Site. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "Angelo's Coney Island Sauce". Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Q: Where did the Flint Coney sauce recipe that includes ground hot dogs originate?". Flint Coney Resource Site. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Todoroff's Original Coney Island". Todoroff's Original Coney Island. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Flory, Brad. "Brad Flory column: Feeding Jackson's astonishing appetite for ground beef heart". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  17. ^ ""Our Famous Coney Island Chili Sauce" section". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  18. ^

Further reading[edit]

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