A Word About Food Favorites …

Arguing about regional, or even personal, food favorites of any kind is quite honestly a complete waste of time and energy. It stands to reason that you will like the foods you grew up with. Regional, cultural, religious and family-specific preferences will always be a factor in what kind of foods you will enjoy or even prefer. In early 2012 journalists from MLive put together what they called the Michigan Coney Dog Project, resulting in what they determined to be Michigan’s Top 10 Coney Dogs. That they put the Flint Style Coney further down on the list (at position #4) than the Detroit Style Coney (at positions #1 and #2) is not at all surprising since only one of their members is from Flint. That “Coney Detroit” co-author Joe Grimm was along for the ride is even more telling as a partial reason for those results. And a brief look at the more-than 75 comments below that article will show proof of liking what you grew up with.

The arguments in those comments regarding who was first in coney development is interesting. The Jackson Style was supposedly in 1914, the Detroit Style was somewhere between 1914 and 1917, and the completed Flint Style was in 1924. Whether or not those people even knew what the others were doing or how they were doing it will never be known, making any argument relatively pointless. The simple fact that these developments occured within 100 miles of each other is what matters, as it puts the development of the Coney itself squarely in southeastern Michigan. That’s something to be proud of.

There are also too many other hot dog styles to count. Wikipedia’s page on hot dog variations lists probably close to 100 variations across the U.S. and around the world. We know from a quick glance that’s not a complete list: Nothing is listed for Hawaii, where the Puka Dog is a popular favorite on Kauai. But the Puka Dog, it appears, is also strikingly similar to the “párek v rohlíku” in the Czech Republic.

If you’re from Detroit, you might like American or Lafayette Detroit Style coneys, while thinking a friend who likes Flint and Jackson styles is crazy. A person standing by from Chicago will tell them they’re both nuts, while the Hawaiian resident and the West Virginian will be arguing Puka vs. Sam’s Hot Dog for an hour. Similarly though, a person from the deep south will avoid Zehnder’s fried chicken like the plague since it “will never be like my mama’s”, Chesapeake Bay crab lovers will always be at odds with those who love Bering Sea ophelia, and a new Chinese visitor to the U.S. will always have a difficult time figuring out why a so-called Chinese restaurant serves that incredibly popular General Tso’s thing he’s never heard of.

Being an adventurous eater means not only being more accepting of flavors and textures outside your comfort zone, and being willing to try them, but also acknowledging our differences in food likes and dislikes, celebrating those differences even though we may not agree for whatever reason. Saying a town “Doesn’t know how to do a hot dog” isn’t true. They don’t do your hot dog. They do theirs just fine. When you’re in their town, you’re actually the one who’s nuts. So try theirs. And remember to keep your mind and your taste buds open.