Growing up in Flint, Michigan, I didn't know there were different kinds of coney dogs.

I lived literally five doors down from Flint's original Angelo's Coney Island on the corner of Davison Road and Franklin Street. I loved the smell of Angelo's wafting through the air as I'd walk home from Homedale Elementary. This place was my introduction to what coney dogs were supposed to taste like.

Photo via JR, Townsquare Media Lansing
Photo via JR, Townsquare Media Lansing

What Are Flint-Style Coneys?

An authentic Koegel's hot dog is a must, preferably on a steamed bun provided by Flint's own Mr. Bread. You'll need mustard and finely diced onions. But the secret is in the sauce.

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As a kid, I would have described Angelo's coney sauce in terms of taco meat. It's loose like that; not soupy like chili. It's seasoned differently though, with butter and garlic and cumin and other spices.

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Also, as a kid, I would have been mortified if I knew that the authentic sauce recipe at Angelo's included beef heart and beef kidney. It was good, and that's all that mattered. Other Flint coney sauce recipes vary, but loose beef is the primary component.

Flint-style coney with fries. Photo via Facebook - Starlite Diner & Coney Island (Flint Michigan)
Flint-style coney with fries. Photo via Facebook - Starlite Diner & Coney Island (Flint Michigan)

The original Angelo's location in Flint closed a few years ago, but there's no shortage of places to get your authentic Flint coney fix. Starlite Diner & Coney Island on Center Road in Burton is a favorite.

What Are Detroit-Style Coneys?

As I got older, and learned there was more to Michigan than just Flint, one of the things I discovered was that all coney dogs are not the same.

Detroit has its own way of doing things.

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If you order a coney in Detroit, you're still going to get an authentic natural-casing hot dog. You're still going to get it served on a warm, steamed bun along with mustard and those finely diced onions. But the sauce will be considerably different.

Photo via Facebook - American Coney Island
Photo via Facebook - American Coney Island

American Coney Island on Lafayette Street in Detroit has been a staple in the city for more than 100 years. Its sauce - a proprietary secret developed by the Greek family who opened the restaurant in 1917 - is soupier and more chili-like than its Flint counterpart (although thinner than chili, and without beans). There's a little more of a spicy kick to it as well.

Is There a Place Where I Can Try Both?

Sparty's Coney Island in Lansing is one of a few places in Michigan where you can order your coney Detroit-style or Flint-style. Try 'em both! Which one's better? I'm partial to Flint, but everyone's got their own taste. Just make sure you've got lots of napkins.

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