Why Is It Officially “Michigan Month”…in New York?
Apparently news (and food) travels slowly to Plattsburgh, New York. Ever heard of it?
With a population of nearly 20,000, Plattsburgh is nestled in the hills of upstate New York and borders Vermont along Lake Champlain. As of July 1, 2022 it is officially "Michigan Month" in this remote New York town. But, why?
In what the city of Plattsburgh is hoping will be a "full-blown annual festival", according to Syracuse.com, the town is designating the entire month of July as Michigan Month. Along with this new designation comes a 5K fun run and walk, custom designed Michigan gear, and a foodie passport which allows participants to get a stamp at any restaurant that serves the "Michigan". So, what is it?
What we Michiganders refer to as a "Coney dog" residents in Plattsburg, New York call a "Michigan"--what kind of Bizarro world is this?!
If you were born in Michigan, you were probably raised on Coney dogs. A staple from the Detroit area, Michigan's signature hot dog is topped with bean-less chili, onions, and mustard, and sits on top of a freshly steamed bun. It's no wonder these New Yorkers are going crazy for it!
How "Michigan" Got to New York
How did these New Yorkers even get wind of our delicious Detroit delicacy in the first place? It appears to have started over 76 years ago when a couple from Detroit, Garth and Eula Otis, moved to Plattsburgh to start their own business. Eula perfected her own version of the traditional chili sauce and began serving the hot dogs in 1925 at their "Michigan Hot Dog Stand".
The Otis' expanded their business and opened a second location in Plattsburgh, all while serving their signature "Michigan" hot dogs. Eventually the Otis' sold the restaurant, along with their secret recipe, to Nitzi Rabin. Nitzi then upped The Michigan's game by inventing a New England-style roll to serve as a bun specific to The Michigan.
Again, I feel like I'm in some sort of Stranger Things/Upside Down world. Residents of Plattsburgh seem to claim the signature hot dog as their own, with the name serving as the only reminder of the origins of the classic Detroit dish.
Why am I so upset over a hot dog right now? Am I wrong to think a "Michigan" is still just a Coney Dog?