Coney Island famous hot dogs

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs

By Greyscape
8th May 2018

A visit to Coney Island isn’t complete without noshing on one of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. Started back in 1916 by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker, more than a hundred years later the name still resonates and of course who can forget that annual Hot Dog eating contest!

More than 500 million of us have enjoyed the cooked tube of meat held together in a roll with all the trimmings in more than ten countries and while we take it for granted someone had to invent the fastest of fast food.

The story of Nathan’s Famous starts earlier than 1916, Handwerker worked at another local restaurant called Feltman’s which sold hot dogs at 10 cents a pop. Handwerker, a natural entrepreneur, figured out that he could sell more and sell them cheaper. According to a 2016 Newsday interview with Wayne Norbitz a former president of Nathan’s Famous, Handwerker figured he needed another USP, and that was that they were the best quality. How did he do it? According to Norbitz  “He hired actors to wear white coats and stethoscopes around their necks to show they were healthy!”

And as for the Hot Dog Eating Contest, Nathan was always looking for a smart marketing gimmick, listened to local youngster Max Rosey who legend has it thought up the annual 4th July contest.

Most famous after-school waitress at Nathan’s Famous? Clara Bowtinelli who shortened her name to Clara Bow

Most elegant french fries maker? A young Cary Grant

The price point of 5 cents suggested by two singing waiters who couldn’t afford Feltman’s 10 cent dog, Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor.

Loyal to the end, Walter Matthau asked that Nathan’s Finest hot dogs be served at his funeral.


Photo Credits: Howard Morris

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