8. Nathan’s Famous (1916)
What more needs to be said about Nathan’s? Nathan’s Famous has been “more than just the best hot dog” since 1916. In fact, the Coney Island-based chain is one of the original fast-food restaurants, it holds the oldest liquor license in New York City, is host to the annual hot dog eating contest, and much more. But before Nathan Handwerker became one of the most recognizable men in Brooklyn, he worked as a humble employee of an immigrant-owned German sausage haus, Feltman’s. When Handwerker left Feltman’s to open his own hot dog eatery, he undercut his former employer’s pricing by 50 percent. Instead of selling his hot dogs at 10 cents each, the Feltman’s price, Nathan’s would sell them at just 5 cents, leading to the boom that launched Handwerker’s business.
Today, you can head to the renowned Nathan’s Famous location on Coney Island, or get one of its hotdogs in the branded carts around New York City, particularly in Midtown. You can check out a film about the restaurant by director Lloyd Handwerker, a grandson of founder Nathan Handwerker, who interviewed family members, Nathan’s workers, and put together archival film and audio and family home videos, to share this story on the centennial anniversary of the hot dog company.