Michigans of New York

Just across the lake in Plattsburgh, NY was born a roadside delicacy known as “Michigans,” which are a favorite road food for many motorcyclists around here. There are several establishments that have their own variety, my personal favorite is from Claire and Carls on Rte 9 just a mile or two south of Plattsburgh. It’s been serving Michigans since the 1930’s, and is famous for its car hops who bring your order to your vehicle, and for its appearance… the back end sinking into the ground.

What is a Michigan? And why have I never heard of this thing? A Michigan is, in its purest form, a steamed natural-casing hot dog on a steamed vertically-split bun, covered with a beef-based meat sauce (“Michigan Sauce”) and chopped onions, similar to a Coney Island chili dog. The dog has been a “North Country” staple since the 1920’s, and there are several stories as to where it originated. The most common being that of a cook from Michigan who moved here in the 1920’s.

Michigans are also quite popular here in Vermont as well as in Quebec, Canada, but their home is Plattsburgh. Notable places to get one include Claire and Carl’s, Gus’ Red Hots, Michigans Plus, McSweeney’s, and Ronnie’s. Any cycle ride ’round the lake is better when stopping for a couple of dogs “with” and a tray of onion rings.