Thursday, September 11, 2014

Eats: Copying Tony Packo's (Or At Least I Tried To)

Hello! I don't know why, but every so often I get a craving for a chili dog (aka Coney dog, Coney Island hot dog, etc. In this post I'll use the term "chili dog"; it's the easiest to type.) We never had them at home, at least not that I recall. Oh, my mom served us hot dogs (often on a Saturday night, I recall), but only with condiments like mustard and catsup, never a meat sauce. 

Every so often I'll get a chili dog at a restaurant that's known for them, and I'll also cut out chili dog sauce recipes that I think sound good. Earlier this year I tried one such recipe that had come from the usually reliable Midwest Living magazine - and thought it was horrible. 

The craving for a chili dog struck again recently, so this time I decided to search online to see if I could find a copycat recipe for the meat sauce used at Tony Packo's, located in Toledo, Ohio. Tony Packo's hot dogs are famous, in part because of being mentioned in the old M*A*S*H TV show (one of the characters on the show was from Toledo, and his shout-outs to Tony Packo's were legit - the actor who played the character is from Toledo as well).

Because of Tony Packo's reputation, I've tried their chili dogs, and their meat sauce really is good. I can see why a fictional soldier stationed far from home would have missed them. So why not try to make them at home?

I wasn't deterred when I read an online article from the Toledo Blade, stating that the copycat versions weren't like the real thing. I haven't been to Tony Packo's in a few years by now, so I'd be fine with a reasonably close facsimile. 

I used this recipe as the base, but made just half the amount. I didn't have Hungarian paprika on hand - my jar was labeled as being from the less-authentic Spain (oh, the horror of it!). But I decided to forge ahead anyway. I also added a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper - I add a couple of dashes (sometimes more) of that spice to almost everything I make. 

The result:

A pretty tasty lunch! I used a homemade sandwich bun, turkey Italian sausage, chopped onion and some spicy mustard (the orangey color on the bun is the mustard). Sure, it's a little messy to eat, and probably not the healthiest thing either, but salads can get a little boring after awhile. (most of the sauce is going into the freezer, though, as I don't need to eat chili dogs every day for a week!)

I have no idea how close the recipe actually is to the one at Tony Packo's, but this is definitely a keeper. Next time I need a chili dog fix, I'll be prepared!


  1. ...the less authentic Spain! Bwah, ha, ha! Great line. I may have to try this recipe since my family likes Chili dogs. I have seen Hungarian Paprika in the store, but have never bought it. Perhaps the next time I'm there, I will, and then I can use it for this recipe.

  2. If you try it, let me know what you think! I really liked this recipe a lot.