The actual origin of the Coney dog is as mysterious as it is delicious. As explained by, many claim to be the first to slather chili on top of a hot dog. Many restaurants, both in Michigan and Indiana claim founding dates in the mid-1910s. Perhaps the central point in Michigan would be in downtown Detroit at the corner of West Lafayette Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Detroit. At this location you have the Lafayette Coney and American Coney, both claiming to have been the first to open. Both of these locations have had a sibling rivalry for over 80 years!

Brothers William “Bill” Keros and Constantine “Gust” Keros, founded the two restaurants to serve autoworkers. Each restaurant claimed they opened first. American Coney says 1917 and Lafayette say 1914. However, city directories do paint a different picture of these dates. The authors of Coney Detroit, say the brothers opened Lafayette Coney together in 1923, and Gust Keros opened American Coney in 1936 after a falling-out with his brother.

Outside of Metro Detroit, Coney dogs vary. In cities like Kalamazoo, Flint and Jackson, their topping is not chilli but a ground beef sauce. The Coney dog has gone beyond Michigan and you can find them in places like St. Petersburg, Florida and Worcester, Massachusetts. In Cincinnatti, their Coney dog chili can stand on its own or even be served with spaghetti!

Where and whenever the Coney dog originated is not as important as how much we all enjoy our Coney dogs and the incredible restaurants we eat them at.

Check out some of the different variations of Coneys:

  • Michigan (in general)

    The Coney Island developed in Michigan is a natural-casing beef or beef and pork European-style Wiener Würstchen (Vienna sausage) of German origin, topped with a beef heart-based sauce, one or two stripes of yellow mustard and diced or chopped onions.

  • Detroit Style

    Detroit style sauce is a bean-less chili sauce, differing from the chili dogs they offer only in the lack of beans. 

  • Flint Style

    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.

  • Jackson style

    Jackson style uses a topping of either ground beef or ground beef heart, onions and spices. The sauce is traditionally a thick hearty one whether ground beef or ground beef heart is used. This meat sauce is applied on a quality hot dog in a steamed bun and then topped with diced or chopped onions and a stripe of mustard. 

  • Kalamazoo style

    Coney Island Kalamazoo was founded in 1915 and is the longest continuously operated Coney Island in the state. Their Coney Island is made up of a topping made from their own recipe served on a Koegel’s Skinless Frankfurter.

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