Photo by Steven Depolo/Flickr

Variations abound, but they’re all delicious.

By Danny Raskin, Senior Columnist

Danny Raskin

And the beat continues to go on and on … Into another year … Still a hang-up as to where the good ol’ Coney Island hot dog came from as it is today … and how it got started.

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t a Detroit restaurant as supposed by many … Or even New York … According to much talk, it was said it might have been in 1914 at Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson, Mich.

Detroit’s American Coney Island, which opened a few years later in 1917, grew to be of large note also with people coming to Detroit looking for the place to have that delicious Coney hot dog so many folks talked about. Nathan’s Famous opened a little hot dog stand in Coney Island, N.Y., in 1916, but it wasn’t a Coney Island dog with the yum yum inside … Just a very good hot dog.

Todoroff’s Todoroff Group LLC

The fact that George Todoroff, who owned Todoroff’s Original Coney Island never registered a trademark on the name, allowed an untold number of restaurants that followed with all-meat, beanless and dry chili, chopped onions and mustard on a bun to claim the name … The Detroit style of chili with its own cumin powder is said to be slightly heavier and soupier.

They may have had small menus but big national reputations … It was regular occurrences for entertainers galore, sports stars, millionaires, politicians, newspaper people, etc., to be found at the counters of both as they savored the delicious tastes of their Coneys.

The ground beef was not hammered into a patty and flopped on a greasy grill … It was stirred loosely in a large pot until cooked into numerous crumbly pieces of tasty offerings … This was spooned out with a wooden spoon over the hot dog … Many folks, however, had the cook ladle some of the slightly creamy and heavier sauce with cumin powder on open hot dog buns without the hot dog, enjoyed with chopped onions, relish, mustard or catsup.

There are many self-styled variations of Coney Island hot dogs, including the name … In Flint, they are, or were, called Flintoids (slang by people from Flint) whose Flint-style Coney Island with their dry sauce is what Philly cheesesteaks are to Philly cheesecakes and what Chicago deep-dish pizzas are to numerous Chicagoans with a relish-based sauce on their doggies … Many places in New York state also call their Coneys a “Michigan” or “Red Hot” and, in some areas, just plain Coney dogs

… At Baltimore’s G & A restaurant, along with a Coney Island hot dog is a Coney Island hamburger topped with chili and fried onions … In Cincinnati, the “Cheese Coney” takeoff of the Detroit Coney Island, is topped with chili, onions and shredded cheese, which nearly hides its smaller-sized hot dog.

What’s next in the way of Coney Island hot dogs? … Few want to change it … and with delicious reasons.
MANY READERS may remember when owner Nerio Lelli used to make his own chocolate ice cream at his former Lelli’s Inn on Woodward, north of Grand Boulevard in Detroit … It was like a tradition for numerous ice cream lovers to order his premises-made specialty … Former customers and others may again order the thick creamy ice cream from Nerio’s own recipe … It is being made by Executive Chef Chris Merritt at Steven Lelli’s Inn on the Green, 12 Mile, between Halsted and Haggerty, Farmington Hills.

REAR VIEW MIRROR … Herman “Ace” Korman singing “I Wish You Love” softly into the ear of Shirley Canvasser at the original London Chop House on Congress in Detroit … whom he married two years later.

DATE HAS BEEN set for Variety The Children’s Charity’s, honoring Andiamo and Joe Muer restaurateurs Joe and Rosalie Vicari for “changing the lives of children” … It will be Saturday, May 4, at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE …Two men walk into a restaurant and ask for tea. “And make sure the glass is clean,” one tells the waitperson.
Returning with the two glasses of tea, the waitperson asks, “Which one asked for the clean glass?”

CONGRATS … To Ruth Talmer on her 70th birthday … To Mel Firestone on his birthday.

Danny’s email address is