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Use of same vendor adds sauce to Lafayette, American coney competition

Local Detroit

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Tom Greenwood and Mike Wilkinson, Detroit News staff writers

After decades of an almost Hatfield-and-McCoy coney competition, the Lafayette and American coney islands are now serving the same hot dog.

Well, almost.

Lafayette Coney Island recently switched to a frankfurter made by the Dearborn Sausage Co., which also supplies dogs to its longtime next-door rival, the American Coney Island.

Previously, Lafayette had purchased its dogs from Winter's Sausage, long located on Gratiot in Eastpointe. Though Lafayette opted to make a change, manager Ali Alhalmi said big differences remain, especially in the chili.

"The difference is the chili. It's the best one," Alhalmi said.

While the vendor company is now the same for both coney-terias, the combination of spices for the red hots each will serve isn't identical, according to Dearborn Sausage Co. Vice President Michael Kosch.

Grace Keros, a third-generation owner of American Coney, said they have a special recipe with Dearborn that is used only for American.

For decades, Detroiters have debated the virtues of the two coneys, defining themselves by their favorites. They are on Lafayette, at Griswold and Michigan.

It's a friendly competition that has garnered national attention. The two have been spotlighted on the "Man v. Food" cable television show and on other food programs.

Russ Miller learned to love Lafayette, and he's passed that allegiance to his family. He makes sure to stop in every time he drives the 40 miles into Detroit to stop by and get a stash of coneys and chili for home. A change in dogs won't alter his loyalty.

"There's only one hot dog stand in Detroit and that's Lafayette Coney Island," said Miller, who lives in Clinton, near Adrian.

But next door at American, the perspective is different — as is the chili, onion and mustard, Keros said.

She said Lafayette's switch to the same hot dog maker is a compliment, even if the dog is different.

"I know our food is superior," she said. "Now I know they know our food is superior."

Photo caption: Hot dogs from the kitchen of American Coney Island in downtown Detroit. (Detroit News courtesy The Travel Channel)

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