Monday, September 07, 2009

Every Dog Has Its Day

Why is a hotdog with meat sauce called a "Michigan Dog" in New York and a "Coney (Island)Dog" in Michigan? a pressing question I know, one I've wondered about for several years but it was this weekend in Royal Oak that prompted the answer.

After passing at least a dozen or more "Coney Island" named restaurants we started talking about this phenomenon and also wondered why there were so many "Coney Islands" in Detroit.

Several years ago in upstate New York I had this conversation with the deli guy. "I'd like a hot dog, please." The deli guy said, "Regular or a Michigan dog?" "What's a Michigan dog" I asked? "Oh, its a hotdog with meat sauce." "Wait, I said, "Isn't that a Coney dog? You know, after Coney Island IN NEW YORK."

So a little googling was in order. Apparently there are competing claims to fame about the invention of the "Michigan" dog. Here's what I found...

Coney Islands are a unique type of Greek American restaurant that originated in Detroit. Several restaurants claim to have invented the name and concept. Claimants include American Coney Island in downtown Detroit, established by Greek immigrant Gust Keros in 1917, with the then-owner contending that he had bought a similarly configured chili dog at the well known New York park. The first Coney Islands were started by Keros and his brother, who got into an argument quite soon after and split their restaurant into two parts--the present day Lafayette and American Coney Islands which are next door to each other, and who to this day argue about which is the "original." Similar claims are made by Todoroff's in Jackson, Michigan.

The Todroff Claim....

Although there are many different varieties of Michigan sauce[2] available today, the original Michigan sauce was created by Mr. George Todoroff in Jackson, Michigan. The sauce was originally created to be used as chile sauce. In 1914, Mr. Todoroff took his recipe to Coney Island in Brooklyn New York and opened his first restaurant. However, the hot dog hadn’t arrived on the scene when he first opened his restaurant, so he had to wait until 1916 to make his first famous "Jackson Coney Island" hot dog. Todoroff's restaurant in Jackson remains in business to this day.

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