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In the northeast corner of New York State, you'll find the Town of Plattsburgh — population, about 20,000. Last year, they officially declared July to be "Michigan Month." But it's not a celebration of the state over 500 miles west. Oddly enough, it's a celebration of a specific style of hot dog.
After officially establishing the annual hot dog appreciation month in 2021, this year, the town has stepped things up a notch. As Plattsburgh's Press-Republican reports, they've created a passport program where diners can track their hot dog progress with stamps from four restaurants known for serving Michigans: Ronnie's, Clare and Carl's, McSweeney's, and Gus's Red Hots. On July 16, they'll be holding a Michigan Mile Fun Run and 5K. And Plattsburgh already held a design contest for this year's official Michigan Month T-shirt. (Be one of the first 25 people to complete the passport, and you can get one for free!)
But one of the biggest moments came on the month's first day: New York's William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which funds historical markers across the state, awarded Plattsburgh an official sign commemorating the Michigan. "This Plattsburgh specialty, a hot dog topped with meat sauce, was advertised as early as 1927," the plaque states. "Origin of name is buried in local lore."
So what exactly is a Michigan? Syracuse.com describes it as "a steamed hot dog covered in a meat sauce and topped with chopped raw onions and a stripe or two of yellow mustard [which] can be worn on top of the meat sauce or buried beneath." As for the sauce, it's "thicker than most meat sauces but not as thick as chili." In a 2017 piece, the local news station WPTZ adds that they are served on a "specially-made, always-steamed Michigan style bun" that is sliced down the side instead of the top.
"Anybody that's ever had a Michigan will attest that they find it delicious no matter how they take it," Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman was quoted as saying, "buried, unburied, so on and so forth. It's a meat sauce, on a delicious dog, there's lots of different ways to have it and every stand is perfect."
And that's not all he had to say. "This will all lead up to a full-blown annual festival starting next year or 2024 at the latest," Cashman added according to Syracuse.com. So mark your calendars.
But is the origin of the name really a mystery? The Michigan-based radio station WKFR — which caught wind of the story — has a theory: They point out that this local Plattsburgh hot dog appears to be a very straightforward twist on their state's popular Coney dogs and can likely be traced back to a couple that moved from Detroit to Plattsburgh at the time the "Michigan" was created. But hey, as the saying goes, never let the truth get in the way of getting your own historical marker.