Nathan’s Hot Dogs is a hot dog stand that was started in 1916 in Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York, by an immigrant from Poland named Nathan Handwerker. Nathans has been in business now for over 90 years, and the name Nathans Famous Hot Dogs is recognized throughout the world.
Nathans Hot Dogs was popular from the outset, but over the years has gained celebrity-level popularity with stars, international visitors, and politicians from throughout the country, all of whom want to have their picture taken at Nathans, eating a hot dog. It's just a very American thing to do. Nelson Rockefeller, one-time Governor of New York, made the statement that nobody could get elected to any office in New York unless they had a photo of themself eating a hot dog at Nathans.
Among the people who ate at Nathans Hot Dogs in Coney Island, Brooklyn, are Al Capone, Eddie Cantor, the Queen of England, Jimmy Durante, Jerry Lewis, Sandy Koufax, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Princess Grace, Sammy Davis Jr., and Cary Grant. In 1939, still in the midst of the great depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt served Nathans Hot Dogs to the King and Queen of England. Jackie Kennedy loved Nathans hot dogs, and also served them at the White House. Nathans Hot Dogs were flown to Yalta and served in the famous meeting at Yalta between FDR, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Barbra Streisand flew a package of Nathans to London and served them at a dinner party.
The man who started it all, Nathan Handwerker, was eventually named one of the 100 top people of New York City, joining such luminaries as Joe DiMaggio and Irvin Berlin. The noted actor Walter Matthau had requested that Nathans Hot Dogs be served at his funeral, and they were.
Nathan's branched out, and today they are sold in all 50 states, with 360 million Nathans Famous Hot Dogs sold last year.
Of course Nathans is also well-known for the annual hot dog eating contest held each 4th of July at Nathans in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. In 2010, there were 40,000 people who went to the hot dog eating contest as fans, and it was broadcast on ESPN live to over a million viewers on TV. The winner ate 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. (Burp).