Michigan Hot Dogs in New York State
Steamed red-skinned wieners are put on a steamed bun, and garnished with a tomato sauce, chopped fresh onion and yellow mustard.
The tomato sauce is flavoured with spices like cumin, cinnamon or nutmeg.
The use of the sauce in New York State apparently stems from Eula Otis, who was originally from Michigan. Her husband Garth opened Garth Otis’ Michigan Hot Dog and Sandwich Shop in Plattsburgh in 1927, and they prepared the sauce as a garnish for their customers to put on the hot dogs. They called the sauce “Michigan sauce.” Eula also shared the recipe with Nitzi’s (now Mcsweeney’s Red Hots, opened 1935) and with Clare & Carl’s (opened in 1942.)
The bun traditionally used was a top cut roll similar to a New England one, but longer and heavier. They were made by the Bouyea-Fassett bakery. They were sold uncut; you’d let them stand for a day to get just a bit stale, then slash them open at the top, and steam them. These rolls were preferred because they had enough heft to remain stable even with all the sauce in them.
Those rolls are now unavailable, sadly. Bouyea-Fassett were bought out in 2002 by the Canadian company, George Weston Bakeries, who killed off the hot dog roll product despite pleas from the local trade. So now, just regular New England style rolls are used. Some places have put up signs warning customers that the bun may not be as stable as they were used to.
“A Michigan—buried” has the onion on the wiener first, then the sauce.
Michigan Hot Dogs in Montreal
In Montreal, the hot dogs are called in French “Hot Dog Michigan.” Both the wiener and the bun are steamed. The hot dog is dressed with thick spaghetti sauce, and chopped fresh onion.
Ekfelt, Lynn Case. Michigan: No Longer Just a state. Voices Magazine: New York Folklore Society. Vol. 32, Spring-Summer 2006.
Webster’s Quotations, Facts and Phrases. Icon Group International. 2008. Page 105.