While you’ve probably heard of both Flint and Detroit Coneys, the disputes about which one is best, and the decades-long dispute between the Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island over which one is the best Detroit coney, you probably have never heard of the third contender in the state of Michigan: The Jackson Coney. Developed by George Todoroff, the Jackson coney has been sold at Todoroff’s Original Coney Island at 1200 West Parnall Road in Jackson, Michigan, since 1914.
One of the key points about the Jackson coney and why it’s important is that it’s linked to the development of what’s known as the Michigan Hot Dog that’s popular in upstate New York and parts of Quebec. From the Wikipedia article on the Michigan:
(i)ts also been reported that the Plattsburgh origin of the “Michigan” name came from Plattsburgh residents, Jack Rabin and his wife, who discovered the Jackson Coney Island Hot Dog while vacationing in Coney Island, fell in love with it, and subsequently recreated the sauce at Nitzi’s, their “Michigan Hot Dog” stand on Route 9 just outside of Plattsburgh … At least one other story exists linking Plattsburgh to the “Michigan Hot Dog”. This story claims that a Canadian, possibly a salesman, traveled between Montreal and New York City. and – on his way home – he would stop in Plattsburgh and spend the night at the Witherill Hotel. Apparently, he would bring back several of Todoroff’s “Jackson Island Conies” and get the cook at the hotel to warm them. The cook liked the flavor so well that he created a similar sauce with similar taste and it caught on and spread in several of the local restaurants. Soon thereafter, everyone in Plattsburgh began referring to them as, “Michigan hot dogs”.
This past Saturday while shopping at the Country Market in Adrian, Michigan, for the ingredients for Sharron Lee’s fruitcake for the previous post, I glanced in one of the island freezers and spotted this tub of sauce. Having never been to Todoroff’s at any point in my life, even though I’ve lived here in Michigan the majority of it, I had to have this container of “Todoroff’s Original Chili No Beans”, aka original Jackson coney sauce. I then promptly sent Ryan off for a couple packs of Koegel Viennas and some decent buns.
One of the things we’ve noticed about pre-packaged hot dog and coney sauces is that they seem to lack the flavor of the same sauce directly from the restaurant of the same name. Ron is one of the cashiers at the Kroger in Point Place, Ohio. When Rudy’s Hot Dog of Toledo recently released their sauce in a can, Ron told me some of his customers had pointed out the canned version didn’t quite taste the same since it hadn’t been simmering in grease all day.
Before taking the above photo, I made sure enough of the grease … er, oils … had simmered to the top of the Todoroff’s sauce to illustrate that their version is probably quite close to what’s served in Jackson. Of course, if you want to spoon this off go right ahead. The flavor probably won’t suffer since apparently it’s the same as what’s served in the restaurant.
Todoroff’s original Jackson coney sauce … regardless if they want to call it something else, or if someone in New York wants to call it a Michigan … is pretty darn close in flavor and texture to my beloved Flint coneys. Serving it on grilled Koegel Viennas also added the correct meat and “snap” of the casing to really show how close the Jackson sauce is to the Flint sauce.
And for Mary’s and my daughter’s benefit, Todoroff’s sauce doesn’t contain any of those danged organ meats.
I’ll be picking up a few more of these next time. And the Viennas, too. We … I mean I … need a stash.