Nathan’s at Coney Island. Photos courtesy of Nathan's Famous, Inc.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Dad Loved Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Hot Dogs
On Father's Day I want to talk about one of my Dad's favorite foods---Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Dad would load his three boys in the station wagon and say, "lets go and get one of those Nathan's famous! We had a stand on Central Avenue in Yonkers not far from our home in Westchester County. Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker, started Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs in 1916 on the board walk in Coney Island, New York. People principally came to Coney Island enjoy its amusement park and to stroll up and down the board walk trying the various eateries such as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Nathan Handwerker’s wife Ida developed a hot dog recipe that quickly became a hit with common folk, gangsters, actors, and politicians. FDR enjoyed the hot dogs so much that he had them served to dignitaries at White House events and sent them to the Yalta summit to share with Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller supposedly said in the 1960s that no one could successfully run for public office in the state without being photographed eating a Nathan’s Famous hot dog. I’m not sure when the restaurant opened in Yonkers but I remember that my Dad loved those long skinny and shinny hot dogs. I ate my beef hot dog smothered with grilled onions topped with spicy mustard. An order of Nathan’s distinctly ridged cut thick French fries with ketchup and an ice cold root beer complemented the hot dog perfectly. I took my then 4 and 6 year olds to the Yonkers location to enjoy the experience before we relocated to the Boston area. The restaurant to my surprise looked relatively the same with some renovations and many additions to the menu. Today Nathan’s hot dogs are sold in supermarkets in all 50 states. But to get the real experience you have to have at a Nathan’s on Coney Island.
More photos of Nathan’s restaurants: http://www.nathansfamous.com/PageFetch/getpage.php?pgid=39
History of the Chicago Hot Dog: [Listen] http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/culinary-chicago-hot-dog-history-chicago-foods
How the Hot Dog Met the Bun, Hot Dog History: [Listen] http://culture.wnyc.org/npr_articles/2012/apr/29/hot-dog-meets-bun-famous-food-discoveries/
Never Put Ketchup on a Hog Dog, Hot Dog History: [Listen] http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/never-put-ketchup-hot-dog-history-hot-dog-stands-and-publics-passion-them
More on My Dad and Food Stories Below:
Going for Custard with my Dad: http://www.foodasalens.com/2009/08/custard.html
My Dad, Frank’s Fuel, and Food: http://www.foodasalens.com/2010/09/hispanic-history-month-and-foodways_19.html
My Dad and the Great Depression: http://www.foodasalens.com/2010/11/thanksgiving-day-series-thanks-for-acts.html