Joel Vernier

I was settled into a wonderful fall nap; I had just mowed the lawn, and thankfully my mower picked up all of the millions of pine needles that had fallen over the last two days. Cutting the grass seems to take longer as I celebrate each decade of my life. Either time is slowing down, or I am. As I was in my alternate universe, dreaming, I began to relive one of my favorite foods, the infamous “Coney Island!”

My first memories of having a coney dog were when I was 10 years old. My dad took the family into Detroit to the Lafayette Coney Island, located at 118 W. Lafayette Blvd. in Detroit. You can google it and see over 1,000 reviews, over 820 pics of various coney concoctions. 

There is a debate over which coney island is the best, Lafayette, or American coney islands. My family is a Lafayette, my best friend is an American coney fan. The debate takes in much of Michigan. I also have friends that are a Flint, Jackson, and Kalamazoo coney fans. Isn’t it nice to have such differing views, yet we all civil about our preferences still friends? Detroit coneys have a mineral taste to them as they use beef hearts for added flavor. Flint coneys use bits of hot dog for flavoring. The fact is that every various type of coney to my taste is all good.

Coney dogs were invented by Greek or Macedonian immigrants in the early 1900s. The first Coney Island restaurant was opened in Jackson, MI in 1914.

Jackson Coney Island is now on my bucket list. Along with the Coney Island in Kalamazoo that opened in 1915.

Locally, many restaurants feature Coneys on various days of the week. There is even a Coney Island amusement park that opened in 1927 on the Jersey Shore. Today, there is a beach and boardwalk to enjoy. And of course, the yearly Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The record is 74 hot dogs and buns eaten by Joey Chestnut. That is without coney sauce, so count me out. 

I generally consume two coney dogs, smothered in onions topped with a little mustard. That seems to keep me full all day long, and even offers a little after taste periodically. When we make them at home, we use Kogels Vienna’s, and top them with “Tony Packo’s” coney sauce from the can. Made famous by the television show “MASH,” it was Klinger’s favorite coney from his hometown of Toledo, OH. We do create our own coney sauce when time permits. The bun is steamed, of course.

As I fully woke up from my afterglow that often accompanies my naps, I called out, “Hey, can we have coney dogs for lunch?” My wife responded, “Yes, if you go to town and buy the hot dogs, buns, and coney sauce!” I just love waking up from a good nap and being motivated to get something done. “I’m on my way to town; see you later for coney dogs for lunch!”

“Remember, every day is a gift! Some are just a little more fun to open than others. – © Joel M. Vernier 10/03/2020 Author of: “The Guinea Pig In The Freezer.”

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