Don't look now, but downtown Detroit's biggest Coney Island Hot Dog competitors are serving up similar coneys.
FOX 2's Jason Carr reports Lafayette Coney Island is now buying its hot dogs from Dearborn Sausage Co. , the same supplier as its next-door rival, American Coney Island.
When asked about the change in meat, Lafayette's longtime coney slinger 'Ali' brushed off the question with a "no comment" and a sly laugh, choosing instead to insist that his coney sauce is the "same as always."
Representatives from Dearborn Sausage confirmed the FOX 2 exclusive.
"We are very happy to be serving both American and Lafayette and Metro Detroit with the finest hot dogs available," said Dearborn VP Michael Kosh.
Lafayette's former supplier, Winter's Sausage of Eastpointe, also confirmed the story, saying that its 41-year relationship with Lafayette ended two months ago.
"We made a special product just for them," said Winters Sausage VP Ron Eckert. "We had a gentleman's agreement that we would only make those hot dogs for them.
"Unfortunately prices go up. They chose to part ways and we wish them the best of luck."
Eckert went on to explain that Detroit native and filmmaker Mike Binder, who is opening Detroit-style Coney Dog restaurants in Los Angeles, has picked up where Lafayette left off. Binder is getting the exact same dog imported from Detroit.
"Really, we can sell that product to anyone now," Eckert explained, "because it's no longer exclusive."
Meanwhile, when FOX 2 asked Kosh whether American and Lafayette now have essentially the same hot dog, with minor recipe differences, he politely declined to comment on the specifics, allowing only that Dearborn is supplying both restaurants.
So why the hullabaloo over this "Coneygate 2011" revelation? For Coney enthusiasts the difference between Lafayette and American Coneys came down to the dog itself. Lafayette's was known to be a softer sausage with a garlic kick, while American served the love 'em or hate 'em 'snappy dog' with the firm casing.
What effect will the change have on customer dedication? Who knows. But for now, Detroit's biggest food debate has one less point to argue over.