How Nathan’s Makes The Most Legendary Hot Dogs In NYC | Legendary Eats

Jake Gabbard: Quick to make
and easy on the wallet, hot dogs are a fast way
to a New Yorker’s heart. Tons of spots cook them well,
but one Coney Island icon stands high above the rest. This is Nathan’s, and it’s
been serving New York’s most legendary
hot dogs since 1916. Customer: This is the spot.
This is the family spot, when you come in
the summer and stuff. Customer: Even in January,
it doesn’t matter. We would come to Nathan’s. Jake: We’re here on
Coney Island to visit Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. Now, I’m super excited,
’cause I’m a bit of a hot dog enthusiast. I even have a supercool
hot dog tattoo. Now, we’re here in
the off-season, which personally for me is my favorite time to
come to Coney Island, because hopefully it’ll be
a little bit less crowded and we can get an
awesome sneak peek at what makes
Nathan’s so famous. Nathan’s is iconic, if
not the most iconic, hot dog in America,
if not the world. And one of the
most recognizable things about Nathan’s is the hot-dog-eating
contest on the Fourth of July. How did that get started? Bruce Miller: Well, it’s
a funny story. You know, he wanted
to publicize Nathan’s, so you didn’t have TV and
radio in those days, in 1916, so you had to come
up with a gimmick, and Nathan’s
was pretty smart. So he says: “You know
what? I’m gonna conduct a hot-dog-eating contest right in front of the store.” So as people were walking by, he’d say, “How many
hot dogs can you eat?” It was, like, a dozen people,
and then they would eat. If they ate 12 hot
dogs, it was a lot. All: Three, two, one, go! Jake: Today, crowds
pack together closely in the peak heat of summer to see competitors
like Joey Chestnut funnel 74 hot
dogs in 10 minutes. But before Nathan’s won
over Coney Islanders, there was another go-to
place for fresh franks. Legend has it that Feltman’s, opened by German
immigrant Charles Feltman, was the first to
introduce the cheap eat to Coney Island, in 1867. But about 50 years later,
one of Feltman’s employees found a way to do it better. Nathan Handwerker
left Feltman’s to open his own hot dog stand on the corner of Surf
and Stillwell avenues, using his wife’s secret recipe. He sold each frank for $0.05,
and customers loved it. Customer: And I’m from
Brooklyn, not from here, but I used to bring my
children to the beach. And they all go: “Mommy,
are we going to Nathan’s? Mommy!” So, I got three kids, so I had to spend
a lot of money from all those years, so Nathan owes
me a free hot dog. [laughs] Jake: Now, on a good
day in the summer, how many hot dogs do you
think you guys are selling? Bruce: We sell
anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 hot dogs. Jake: In one day? Bruce: In one day. Jake: [laughs] Wow. The go-to order is
an all-beef hot dog with deli mustard
and sauerkraut, plus a side of salty
crinkle-cut fries. When you’re eating
the Nathan’s hot dog, it’s, like, a full-on experience. You’ve got the flavors,
and you’ve got the smells, but then you’ve got the
texture thing with the snap, where it just cracks
in your mouth and just tastes
so fresh and unique. Customer: I’ve been coming
to Nathan’s for 40 years. Customer: And I’ve been
coming for 60 years. Customer: You can’t
drive through Brooklyn without going to Nathan’s. James Walker: It’s really the
nucleus of the neighborhood. So, Coney Island, it really
in many ways is Nathan’s, and Nathan’s, for many
years, was Coney Island. So what started as
a small hot dog stand now encompasses an entire
city block behind us, so it’s hard to miss. It really is that tent
pole to Coney Island. Jake: Nathan’s roots are
deep in Coney Island, but its name is known
across the world. The once small stand can now
be found at 58,000 stores in over 10 different countries, and still, locals and tourists
seek out the original. Customer: We are from France. We’re here at
Nathan’s because it’s the king of hot dog. It’s excellent. Jake: It’s, like,
quintessential New York. When you move to New York,
you feel you don’t fit in, or you come to New York,
it’s very overwhelming, it’s very loud, there’s a
lot of, like, crazy sights, and there’s something about
just, like, the New York hot dog that makes you feel like
you’re a part of it, so, like, every time I
come out here I feel like I’m not just this
kid from the Midwest, I’m like, I’m a
New Yorker now. It makes me feel like I fit in. This is what people have been
eating here for 100 years. Customer: This was my hangout
when I was a teenager. I used to play hooky and come with my girlfriend
here all the time. Bruce: Yeah, it’s all
about the history. It’s the longevity. You know, it’s the community. It’s the loyal customer base. Almost like a cult that
we have that follows us, but that’s what it’s about. That’s what made
Nathan’s famous. Customer: I love it.

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