Famous Nathan: A Family Saga of Coney Island, the American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog by Lloyd Handwerker

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Before the gut-busting eating contests and franchise stores across the country, there was a single man, Nathan Handwerker. An Eastern European Jewish immigrant who left the small provincial world he knew for a fresh start in America, Nathan arrived at Ellis Island speaking not a word of English, unable to read or write, and with twenty-five dollars hidden in his shoes. He had a simple goal: work hard and carve out a piece of the American dream. But history had bigger plans for Nathan.

Beginning in 1916, with just five feet of counter space on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue, Nathan sells his frankfurters for five cents. As New York booms, bringing trains and patrons to the seashore, so too does Nathan’s humble frankfurter stand. Soon Nathan’s Famous takes over the whole block, and Nathan gathers around him a dedicated core of workers (many who stay for decades) who help launch the hot dog as an American food staple.

Even as the business soars, Nathan remains fiercely loyal to what matters most: his customers, workers, and family. There’s Ida, the wife he fell in love with because no one could peel an onion faster; Sammy, the counterman who could serve an astonishing sixty franks per minute; and then there are the heirs to the empire, Murray and Sol, whose differing visions for the future lead to clashes with their eternally demanding father. Success brings difficulties, and as the two sons vie over control of the family business, a universal story of success and ambition plays out, mirroring the corporatization of the American food industry.

Written by Nathan’s own grandson, and at once a portrait of a man, a family, and the changing face of a nation through a century of promise and progress, Famous Nathan is a dog's tale that snaps and satisfies with every page.

Title : Famous Nathan: A Family Saga of Coney Island, the American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 1250074541
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 pages


Walt rated it ★★★★☆

October 18, 2017

Excellent writing from the original Nathan's grandson. It brought back many memories of a few trips all the way across Brooklyn to double park in front of Nathan's while my Dad and Uncle went up to the windows to get hot dogs and fries. The book doesn't mention that there were separate windows fo...

Bookworm rated it ★★☆☆☆

November 30, 2016

Maybe just for people familiar with Nathan's Famous It sounded intriguing: the story Nathan's Famous hot dogs. I've never had one, never been to Coney Island, but I am familiar enough to understand that there's a story behind it. This is the story, partially told by one of his grandsons with a co...

Cary rated it ★★★☆☆

May 28, 2017

As a member of the Boomer Generation growing up in Brooklyn, going with my parents to Nathans in Coney Island was a special treat. Ah, those frankfurters slathered in mustard and the crinkle cut French fries. Those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, your arteries thank you! Thank he...

Peter rated it ★★★★★

September 12, 2017

I found this book delightful and informative. It is the story of Nathan Handwerker the founder of Famous Nathan, his restaurant, but it is also the story of Coney Island, and it is also the story of the Handwerker family, and it is also a guide for building a business. All of these stories are in...

Terri rated it ★★★★★

August 24, 2017

I picked up this book on a whim, thinking it would be a cool food-centric book about a famous brand. It was SO much more and ultimately about families. Loved it!

Skjam! rated it ★★★☆☆

July 09, 2016

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was requested or given. Nathan’s Famous was the number one hog dog stand in the world for several decades, and synonymous with the Coney Island experience. It was t...

John rated it ★★★☆☆

March 10, 2017

An inspiring immigrant's tale of a fortune built five cents at at time. No one worked harder than Nathan.

Phil rated it ★★★☆☆

October 02, 2016

A behind the scenes look at Famous Nathan's the iconic Coney Island hot dog stand, founded 100 years ago by a Russian Jewish Immigrant, Nathan Handwerker. Told by his grandson, not a bad business book either.

Lucile rated it ★★★☆☆

February 14, 2017

18. Famous Nathan’s by Lloyd Handwerker The best thing about this biography of an iconic product is the setting: Coney Island. From the roaring twenties to the greedy eighties, Nathan’s hot dogs typified the instant gratification of Coney Island. Nathan Handwerker, the founder, was driven and woul...

Rogue Reader rated it ★★★★☆

November 24, 2017

Fast, good read on the history of this wonderful place, the man who propelled it, and the family that grew rich from its traffic. Another insight too into Robert Moses' influence and massive developments. A great complement to Handwerker's documentary. Its all so much more than a hot dog.

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