23. The Hotdog Was Invented On Coney Island (Not By Nathan’s)

The fast-paced growth occurring on Coney Island in the 1870s attracted many entrepreneurs. One such businessman was Charles Feltman, who worked selling pies to the hotels quickly sprouting up along Coney Island’s beaches. His business patrons started asking for sandwiches to sell to their customers. However, according to Berman in Coney Island, Feltman had a more creative idea that worked better with his small vendor’s cart: putting a small charcoal stove inside his wagon where he could boil single pork sausages and then put each between a roll. They were initially called “red hots” before he started calling them “hot dogs.”

Considering their current ubiquity, it’s not surprising that hot dogs were immediately a huge hit. Because of this success, Feltman purchased his own shore lot and then opened several restaurants and beer gardens to spread his new invention, so that within a decade he served 200,000 patrons in all his establishments. Nathan’s still fits into the story, however. In 1916, an employee of Feltman named Nathan Handwerker established a business that would one day become Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs and compete with Feltman’s thriving business.