The Coney Imposter

Sometimes posts write themselves, the words pouring out like molten steel.

This is one of those times.

Because somewhere in Colorado – near Fort Collins – they’re serving Coney Island hot dogs that, frankly, are an abomination. OK, so I guess if pressed, I’d say their “Coney Island” tasted decent, but in no way, shape, or form was it a Coney dog.

Being a Michigan native, this is a serious offense. The Coney dog is basically our state food. You take a hot dog with a snap, put in a bun, and top it with diced raw onions, mustard, and a savory, quasi-proprietary chili sauce. Anything else is something else entirely.

Imagine ordering a Chicago dog and there’s no sport peppers, or  a “deep dish” Chicago pizza and it’s not… erm… deep. Yeah, I’m talking that bad, man,

I immediately knew something was amiss when I told the waitress I was from Detroit while I was ordering, and she just stared back at me blankly. Like I was a crazy guy that goes around telling people I’m from Detroit for no reason.

She clearly had zero idea what the name “Coney Island hot dog” stands for.

Hell, she probably thinks it’s a reference to New York City.

The fact that menu described this “Coney” Island as being topped with cheese, onions, and mild red chili didn’t exactly inspire confidence, either. It sounded like a Cincinnati cheese Coney, if anything. An acceptable regional variant, sure, but not what I’d brand as a true blue Coney dog.

The $7.50 price tag and massive size of this… this thing immediately confirmed my deepest, darkest fears. A Coney dog is supposed to be a cheap, quick bite. This heifer was clearly designed send your metabolism into a semi-permanent state of shock and awe.

Well, whatever. I had to do my due diligence and eat it.

I couldn’t even pretend it was an elongated Cincy cheese Coney, since they’d poured some weird kind of liquid cheese on it. Shredded cheese would’ve been the traditional way to go, but they weren’t having that. Also unorthodox was the presence of kidney beans, an addition that you would’ve had to specifically request in Cincinnati.

Bottom line, what I ate wasn’t a Coney dog. It was a weird chili dog. It wouldn’t cut the mustard in Detroit, partially because there wasn’t any mustard. Seeing it on the plate was like watching the Lions play a road game. Terrible.


It was the sort of food you could only imagine emerging from the fever dreams of a deranged Iowan. Now I can’t say with 100% certainty that our unnamed business has Iowa origins. But when you consider that the place is festooned with Hawkeye and Panthers memorabilia and specializes in loose meat sandwiches (an Iowa Maid-Rite special), it’s a safe bet that whoever is in charge harbors a very, very soft spot for the state.

And a very, very dark spot for Coney dogs.


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