OT: The History of Coney Dogs

Submitted by Zone Left on March 7th, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Last week, this post about Leo's Coney Island spreading the gospel of no-bean chili dogs to Chicago really made me miss home. Every time I get back to Michigan, I hit up a Senate Coney Island near my folks house for a couple of Coney Dogs. I've always wished they were more widespread across the US.

It got me wondering about the history of the Coney Island restaurants and their delicious hot dogs, so I did a little Googling, and here's a summary of what I found.

Coney dogs are popular in the Midwest, Upstate New York, and (oddly) Quebec. However, they are only referred to as Coney Dogs or Coney Islands in the Midwest, and are referred to as "Michigan Dogs" everywhere else. George Todoroff of Jackson, MI and Todoroff's Coney Island is credited by Wikipedia as having been the first to combine the ingredients around 1916 in Coney Island (hence the name). However, both American and Lafayette Coney Island claim to have invented the Coney Dog as well.

Personally, I'm a Senate guy, but that's probably nostalgic. My Grandma loves their food, and so I take her when I'm in town. What about you all?

edit: It's a slow, rainy Sunday, obviously.



March 7th, 2010 at 11:48 AM ^

I've always found the "Michigan Dogs" vs. "Coney Dogs" thing kind of funny, being from New England and having strong ties out in Michigan. I wouldn't go so far as to say they call it the Michigan everywhere, though. Some places unfortunately just call it a chili dog, regardless of the presence of beans.

OMG Shirtless

March 7th, 2010 at 11:58 AM ^

I generally prefer Flint Style, just because that is what I remember growing up.

Coney Islands generally offer a choice of either Flint or Detroit style coney dogs. Flint style is characterized by a dry chili more similar in consistency to ground beef than chili, while Detroit style is more soupy, heavy with chili and cumin powders. When in either of these respective cities, only the local style is offered.

I couldn't think of a way to adequately describe them, so I let Wikipedia do the work for me. I'm perfectly content with Detroit Style coneys though, as Flint Style isn't often found outside of the Flint area. I finally made it to the new Leo's in Chicago this past week, it was everything I could have hoped and dreamed for.

EDIT: Damn, now I'm going to have to order hot dogs for the Wings and Michigan games today. Good thing Clark Dog delivers.


March 7th, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

A Greek moved to Detroit from...you got it Coney Island NY, he liked the dogs at Nathans there. Moved to Detroit, had a no bean chili recipie and openend National Coney Island in the D. His brother got pissed because he thought his recipie for chili was better. The brother opened Lafayette. The rest is history. Man I live in NY now and I really miss a good Detroit coney dog. Everytime I am home i have to go to Lafayette. It pwns National.


March 7th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

Senate Coney Island and Lafayette are my favorites.
I'm convinced they are government funded!

Yes, I'd like two coney dogs, please, fries and a Molson.
Ok, sir, that will be $4.25.

How do they do it!?

Wolverine In Exile

March 7th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

is down here in SW Ohio... the damn Cincinnati chili that claims to be coney dogs... no where is cheese or cinnamon/chocolate depending on the particular recipe (Skyline vs. Gold Star) to be found in a real coney dog. Funny thing is I'm converting them one at a time as they come over for work dinners and I make them my rip off from the kitchen of Lafayette Coney sauce with either Kogel's, Kowalski, or Nathan's dogs.

just remember, you have to have the skin on the dogs so that you get that little bit of pop when you bite in...


March 7th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

...is Ben's Chili Bowl.

A part of DC's Shaw neighborhood and U St corridor, Ben's has survived Washington's cycle of urban prosperity, decline and revival and become a landmark institution.

Definitely worth a visit on your next visit to our nation's capital to compare and contrast with the Detroit Coney Island version.


March 7th, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

When I lived in Buffalo they called them "Texas Red Hots". Don't ask me why, but whatever the reason its irrelevant because they were DANG good.


March 7th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

As a Midwesterner, I've always been annoyed that the "Coney Island" name got traction. Why be so derivative when plenty of other alternatives would have worked? The dogs are great and they could have been successful by themselves. It reminds me of places like "LA Gym" or "LA Tan."