Is it true that if you like hot dogs, you love Coneys?
In my case, you bet.
When I order a Coney – or even a chili dog – I ask for a whole cup full of chopped onions on the side...I never get enough no matter where I go.

A recent discussion took place between a fellow Michigander and an out-of-stater when the subject of food came up. The Michigander mentioned that he “grabbed a couple of Coneys...” when the other person looked at him with a quizzical look and asked “what's a Coney???”

Hard to fathom, but many people who aren't from Michigan don't know what a Coney is. Sure, they've heard of chili dogs, but let's face it...there's a difference between Coneys and chili dogs. The most well-known types of Coneys are Detroit style and Flint style. There's also the Jackson Coney and Kalamazoo Coney.

Before we get into the differences, here are a few facts:

The Detroit Coney Dog was created by Gust Keros in 1917. After arriving in America, he visited nearby Coney Island, New York and had a hot dog. The taste impressed him so much, that when he eventually settled in Detroit, he eventually opened the American Coney Island restaurant where he served hot dogs. The legend says that a customer came in and asked Gust to smear some of his chili over a hot dog.....and the Coney was therefore created.

Now the differences:

Detroit Style
The Detroit Coney is a Koegel wiener made of pork and beef – with the famous casing 'crunch'. It's topped with a spicy beef heart mixture, chopped onions, and mustard.

Flint Style
A Flint-style Coney is topped with a mixture spices, finely ground beef heart, chopped onions sautéed in beef tallow, and a Coney sauce base. The sauce is drier than the Detroit.

Jackson Style
Jackson style alternates between spicy ground beef and/or beef heart, a mustard strip, and chopped onions. Served on a steamed hot dog bun. Todoroff restaurants made these Coneys beginning in 1914 with ground beef. They used beef heart for the first time in the 1940s.

Kalamazoo Style
The longest, continually-operated Coney Island restaurant in Michigan is Coney Island Kalamazoo. Founded in 1915, they make their sauce from their own homemade recipe. When Koegel's was created in 1916, the Kalamazoo Coney began using the Koegel frank without the casing crunch.

Coney aficionados say you should never eat a true Coney with ketchup or cheese. Well, I happen to like cheese on mine.

So while perusing the four different styles of Coneys, they sound pretty similar to each other with very little differences. According to, the following is the “Authentic Detroit Coney Dog Recipe” -

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 pound ground beef heart
1 pound ground chuck
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
1.5 cups chicken or beef broth
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves
4 teaspoons American chili powder
4 ounces tomato paste

Sounds like a lotta work to make your own authentic Coney.
On the other hand, a chili dog is much simpler to make – homemade chili poured onto a hotdog with onions. ...and they taste good, too.

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