Detroiters will gather downtown Wednesday to wish one of the city's legends a happy birthday as American Coney Island celebrates 95 years in business in the same location, run by the same family.
To mark the occasion, the restaurant is turning back time a few decades and offering coney dogs for 95 cents from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to WXYZ.
The restaurant, run by the founder's granddaughter Grace Keros, has been in business on Michigan Avenue next door to friendly competitors Lafayette Coney Island since 1917. It has all the makings of an institution: rivalries, secret recipes, cheap food, patrons from across the city and plenty of history.
But while we are all for celebrating (and cheap lunch), we're a little leery of the occasion's marketing stunts. According to the Detroit News, American Coney Island teamed with radio station 95.5 to drop 955 natural casing dogs from a helicopter onto a Dearborn soccer field. The frankfurters won't be thrown away after the ensuing hot dog gathering contest, but will go to feed pups at Detroit Dog Rescue.
If you don't get a chance to have a lunchtime coney dog (or two) on the restaurant's birthday, check out some mouthwatering pictures below and get your fill of coney history with unofficial expert Katherine Yung, cowriter of "Coney Detroit."
American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island are two of the oldest coney island restaurants in Detroit. Started by the same family, they each have very loyal fans. Photo by Keith Burgess.
A coney island at New Center's Coney Man. Photo by Pul Hitzelberger.
National is one of metro Detroit's coney chains. Photo by Spike.
Some might call it heresy, but the coney island has had numerous spin-offs, including coney island pizza and coney island tacos. Photo by Bobby Alcott.
"Coney Detroit" points out that the heavy Greek influence on Detroit's coney islands comes out in their names -- besides Athens, there's Athenian, Greek Islands, Hellenic, Olympic and Zorbos. Photo by Rob Terwilliger.
George's Coney Island in Worcester, Massachusetts serves Flint-style coney islands. Photo by Christine Dunshee Peterson.
Dearborn Sausage and Koegel Meats are the two biggest coney island hot dog producers in Detroit and Flint. Photo by Rob Terwilliger.
Even coney island buns are unique. They have to be made a particular way, the sponge dough method, so they can be steamed. Photo by Ted Fines.
A perfectly messy coney dog at American Coney Island is half-way devoured. Photo by Keith Burgess.
Flickr photo by jbcurio.