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.


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 is still being researched.

Jackson Style[edit]

Jackson style uses a topping of ground beef, onions and spices. This referenced style is from Todoroffs Original Coney Island. However the Todoroffs' restaurants are now all closed and they only manufacture and distribute their coney sauce for retail purchase at supermarkets or other restaurants now. There are several other restaurants in the Jackson area that serve a similar but different type of coney, one of which is owned by an unrelated Todoroff family named Andy's Pizza. Andy's has 3 locations in the Jackson area. Along with this there are several other coney restaurants most notably being Jackson Coney Island and Virginia Coney Island. These are both 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 instead use ground beef heart instead of ground beef for the coney sauce. 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. [13] [14]


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. ^ ""Our Famous Coney Island Chili Sauce" section". Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  14. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]