The Detroit Hot Dog Feud That's Been Raging For Decades

As long as people have been on this planet there have been feuds. Whether it was the Hatfield family versus the McCoy family feud of the late 1800s, the Pazzi family versus the Medici family of Florence, Italy back in the 1400s, or even rivals Michael and Fredo Corleone in the classic film "The Godfather," real or fictional — mankind seems to foster more than a slight interest in feuds. While obviously, an "us versus them" mentality is not a good mindset to have, we at least take comfort in knowing that no one would get into a rivalry over something so simple as a hot dog, right? Well allegedly, in downtown Detroit, Michigan there are two hot dog stands that have been nursing a grudge against one another that's as red hot as the franks it serves.

Before you jump to the idea of hot dog vendors spraying each other down with mustard or looting each other's relish stash, we must first understand who the participants of this supposed "feud" are. The first is the American Coney Island hot dog restaurant, which is located on Lafayette Boulevard. According to American Coney Island's website, the stand first opened in 1917 under Greek immigrant Constantine "Gust" Keros.

Steps away from American Coney Island, also located on Lafayette Boulevard, is Lafayette Coney Island — it also serves Coney Island-style hot dogs. While you may think serving up the same hot dog is enough to cause a rivalry, it's also about who's running Lafayette.

Lafayette Coney Island was started by Gust Keros' brother

As the Culture Trip explains, Gust Keros — operator of the American Coney Island, brought his brother Bill over to America to help with the business. In 1924, however, Bill decided to stick it out on his own and opened Lafayette Coney Island directly next to his brother's. Whether or not this was done on good terms or by some unknown fight between Gust and Bill is unknown. What is known, however, is that a disagreement over who served the best hot dog in Detroit slowly began to emerge amongst Detroiters.

Anthony Brancaleone of The Metropolitan recalls his family's staunch loyalty to Lafayette Coney Island, to the point his father would outright ignore Gust Keros who would try and invite them inside American Coney Island. The Detroit Historical Society attempted to draw distinctions between American Coney and Lafayette hot dogs, claiming American serves its Coney-style dogs with a spicier house-made chili while Lafayette serves its hot dogs with a beefier style of chili prepared with a "family recipe."

The "feud" between American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island was featured on the television program "Food Wars" (via which attempts to settle the debate of which hot dog is better. Of course, there's no clear answer as to who exactly is better, but most Detroit citizens are always more than happy to have a Coney Island dog — from their favorite vendor, of course.