The Coney Island Hot Dog That Fueled Detroit’s Middle Class
You’re not crazy; “Coney Island hot dogs” make you think of the Cyclone, the Fourth of July, and a table of eaters jamming tube-steaks down their throats like machines. They’re as much a part of New York City history as the Yankees or swearing at motorists.
But to the Detroit middle class, the “Coney” has a completely different meaning. The Michigan-based version of the dog, which has several different local variations, is your run-of-the-mill grilled German wiener topped with chopped onions and mustard—but with a distinctive red sauce that resembles chilly and has a beef heart base.
How did the Detroit Coney rise to popularity? According to NPR’s “The Salt”, the hot dog’s coming out party was in the 1920s and 1930s, when workers flocked to Detroit to work for Henry Ford’s production lines. Greek immigrants, who had entered the country via New York City’s Ellis Island, brought it with them and added their own recipe to it. They were (literally) eaten up by Detroit’s working-class laborers, who needed cheap options for daily meals. Read NPR’s take here.
Listen to an “All Things Considered” recording done about the Detroit Coney below.