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Michigan hot dogs and potato chips

Have you ever noticed every community seems to think their local brand of hot dogs are the best? I now live in Ann Arbor, where Koegel's dogs are the local favorite, but to me they are just okay. I grew up on the east side of Detroit on Kowalski dogs, and that remains my preference. I also prefer Better Made potato chips, but my hubby, who grew up in northern mid Michigan, doesn't see what I like about them.
I used to live in the U.P., where the locals loved Vollwerth's hot dogs, which I never could get used to eating.

It got me thinking...to paraphrase Tip O'Neill, that all hot dogs and potato chips (like politics) are local. What are your favorite local brands of Michigan made hot dogs and potato chips?


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  1. I grew up in Flint, Koegel's headquarters, and love their Vienna's. Usually don't eat dogs unless they are Vienna's, I like the way they snap when you bite down on them. I remember loving Paramont potato chips growing up and don't even know if they are around any more. Better Maid I see at the store, but I try to stay way from chips anymore, too fattening. I should try them one day when I'm feeling light.

    1. I am a Koegels man...

      The question I ask you is do you boil them, microwave them, pan fry them, Grill them?

      Do you cut them in half before you do any of the above?

      What sides do you use...

      My new favorite side is McClure's Garlic Dill Pickle Relish with a grain mustard.

      3 Replies
      1. re: JanPrimus

        Ok, I'll bite...

        When I was younger and didn't mind eating 17 grams of fat in a tube, we would boil them, slice them down the middle and put Kraft singles in the middle and top with mustard. Now, I do them on the grill, with plain mustard and Claussen pickle relish on a bun. Then the second one I eat without a bun and dip in mustard. About every 10 years some Koegel's pickled bologna pulls me in and I have to have some. Almost did that today.

          1. re: JanPrimus

            Another good web site that will ship Koegels, Kowalski and Flint or Detroit style coney sauces is www.MichiganHotdogs.com

      2. I like Koegel's, and Kowalski also. I think the key is that sausages in general tend to run pretty good around here. The businesses were founded by the people who do sausages best, namely Germans and Poles. What I find when I leave the area is that the dogs are usually not as good (New York and Illinois-Wisconsin would be exceptions). A Koegel's bratwurst is pretty much what you get in a bar in Germany, but the things that pass for bratwurst in many parts of the U.S. are strange, lumpy, greasy tubes of spices and fat.

        1. Made Rite potato chips rule. Better Made are good too, but Made Rite's have just the right blend of grease and salt. They are always super fresh too.

          As for hot dogs, when our town's German butcher went out of business, i had to switch to Koegels and Kowalskis. I come down a bit on the Kowalski side b/c of their slogan "Kowalski Means Kowality."

          2 Replies
          1. re: charlesbois

            Me too! I remember when Kowalski used to give out "Smaczne" bumper stickers - it is prounounced "Smahtch-nah" and it means delicious in Polish.

            1. re: momskitchen

              blue sticker with white letters. had one on my wagon when i was a kid.

          2. After 50 years of eating a LOT of both Koegels and Kowalski dogs, I give a slight edge to Koegels. The taste is pretty much the same with the Koegels having a grind I like better--can't really explain the difference. Made Rite chips were made in Bay City, but even though I'm just in Saginaw, Made Rites are hard to find. I don't know if they went out of business or just a poor distributorship.

            One thing I wanted to add...I travel a lot and love hot dogs so I've eaten them from coast to coast. It's really sad what most of the country calls a hot dog after having Michigan dogs. I'd once heard that we have the highest quality standards in the country. And you can really get some pretty scary dogs (pun intended) when you see what other states serve as "brats".

            1 Reply
            1. re: Goldendog

              My original post should have said "Made Rite potato chips ruleD" (past tense). Apparently Better Made bought them out. I'm just glad Better Made is still in business, because they make damn fine chips and use Michigan potatoes I believe.

              As for Michigan hot dogs, growing up, it was verboten to order a hot dog while on vacation outside of Michigan. I can't find any proof in a quick search, but I too have heard Michigan has the highest quality standards for hot dogs.

            2. Made Rite potato chips from Bay City are the very best I've ever tasted!

              Tube steaks: almost any other brand than Hygrade.

              1. Koegel's all the way...with Flint style chili Angelo's style. :) Made Rite potato chips rock. I grew up near Flint, which is why my loyalties are there. Reminds me of growing up.

                1. Better Made Allll the way! I grew up with these and I could easily
                  eat a whole family sized bag. The regular BBQ are my fave.....Sadly, since I have reformed my eating habits I rarely get occasion to partake anymore, but I still dream of them.......sigh......

                  Whenever someone brings in boring ole Lay's to work for our "Treat Days" I just want to scold them and ask "What kind of a Michigander are you???"

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: RNemes

                    Better Made chips have a good local marketing program but they are not the only MI product.
                    Lay's has a plant off I-94 out by Detroit Metro.
                    Lay's purchase 472 million pounds of MI potatos every year from several farms across the state.

                    1. re: Fritter

                      The Lay's plant off I-94 is now closed. They don't produce chips in Michigan anymore. I can't dispute your claim about the potatoes that they buy from Michigan farms, but I definitely remember reading the articles in the paper when they shuttered the plant. I would be surprised, however, if Lay's actually buys that many potatoes from Michigan farmers these days, especially since they don't produce product in this state anymore.

                      1. re: boagman

                        Thanks for that update boagman.
                        Looking at the stats on their web site they are currently buying 472 million pounds of Michigan potatos from the following farms;
                        Walther Farms-Bay City
                        Sackett Ranch-Edmore
                        Heritage growers-Edmore
                        Black Gold Potato-Three Rivers and Walther Farms-Three Rivers.
                        I do see that they no longer list the production plant here so the web site seems updated with the tons purchased from MI.


                        1. re: boagman

                          I went in the Lays plant a few times back when they were open and they did not produce potato chips in that plant. They did more of the corn chips and such...

                          1. re: JanPrimus

                            That's what I was thinking as well. Interestingly enough Lay's has a "chip tracker" so you can see where your bag was made.
                            Walther Farms is going to be featured in their ads so I'm sure they are still buying plenty of Mi spuds.


                      2. re: RNemes

                        This thread prompted me to go to the Better Made website yesterday. I'm glad I did. There was an announcement that Rainbow chips were available at the Factory Store on Gratiot Avenue. But only for a limited time. Raced down there and liberated two $3.69 bags. They're great again this year!

                        1. re: RedTop

                          Interestingly enough this is what their web site says about their potatos;

                          "Potatoes are received daily from the farmers' fields or storage tanks. During each spring, the majority of the potatoes come from the Florida area. From Florida, we use the potatoes in North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Around September 1st, we move into Michigan, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Field potatoes are used from May 1st through October. From November through April, we use storage potatoes"

                          Not exactly the picture you get from their ads but it makes sense that any chip maker would use spuds from several states.