Coney Island - The Unofficial Story of the Hot Dog
I was just watching the History channel and they had a piece on the history of the hot dog. I had always thought that the hot dog was born at Yankee Stadium but that would have been wrong.
The first record of someone having a hot dog is disputed as some say it was born in the old Polo Grounds where the New York Giants use to play baseball. Others believe it was in good old Coney Island that the hot dog was born.
The hot dog as we know it was born in Coney Island in a place called Feltman's where they charged 10 cents a hot dog. It wasn't until a worker at Feltman's named Nathan Handwerker that made the hot dog what it is today. He was a worker at Feltman's and rumor has it is was his idea to place the hot dog in a bun for the first time.
He saved up his money on the advice of Jimmy Durante and Eddie Cantor he opened Nathan's Famous Hot Dog stand right on the corner of Stillwell avenue and Surf avenue. Since celebrities liked the hot dog so much and the area was starting to boom they brought the vaudeville shows to the boardwalk area in Coney Island.
It wasn't until the Coney Island train station was built in the 1920's that the explosion of people coming to the beach was Nathan's as popular as it was today. In the early days though Nathan's had a problem selling hot dogs because his price of 5 cents made people wonder what was in it, You see Feltman's still charged 10 cents so people thought that Nathan's hot dogs must not have been made that good.
Although the hot dog that Nathan was making was actually better meat he had a problem getting that message across to the people so he had a gimmick. He gave doctors from nearby Coney Island hospital free hot dogs as long as they had their white doctors coat on. This ensured the public that they were good if doctors were eating them.
Once the public saw that hot dogs from Nathan's were good for them they would stop by and get them from one of the many counter people that served many a hot dog a minute because the crowds were so large.
Now there is many locations for Nathan's and there is actually two in Coney Island itself as a few years back they opened a store on the Boardwalk. The building that they are in on the boardwalk is soon to be destroyed for condos so if you are going to Coney Island make sure you stop by the Original Nathan's on Stillwell and Surf.
Nathan's is now a place to visit either before or after you take in a Brooklyn Cyclones game. This is the New York Mets minor league team that plays in a new stadium located about two blocks away from Nathan's. The lines before the games remind me of the lines that Nathan's must have had in the prime time of Coney Island.
There is still something to be said about the way that the hot dogs are cooked at Nathan's that can't be replicated at Vinny From Brooklyn Home. If you are planning a visit to Coney Island click on the Nathan's famous website below and print out a coupon. They often run a buy one get one for a nickel promotion.
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