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On a roll: Nathan’s pumps out thousands of franks for anniversary fete

More than a foot long: The line for five-cent hotdogs wrapped around Nathan’s and down to the Boardwalk on May 28.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

These dogs had their day!

Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue sold hot dogs for five cents a piece on May 28, rolling its prices back to 1916 rates in honor of its 100th anniversary. The Coney Island mainstay has been feeding locals for a century, but the celebration was also a time for newcomers to taste a Brooklyn tradition, one eater said.

“I’m from Brazil and arrived in New York three weeks ago, and so I had been waiting to try Nathan’s — it’s very traditional, and that’s why it’s special,” said Manuella Cantauice.

All told, about 18,000 waited an average of half an hour on line for a five-cent frank on Saturday, and the staff pumped out the plump crowd-pleasers at a rate of 100 per minute — a pretty good clip, according to a spokesman.

“There was an extraordinary amount of coordination — the [Transportation Security Administration] could learn a lot from Natahan’s Famous,” said George Shea.

The line stretched from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk, but it was a good appetizer, Cantauice said.

“It was worth it,” she said.

Founder Nathan Handwerker, a Polich immigrant, got his start in the business slicing buns and delivering franks for Coney Island entrepreneur Charles Feltman — the man who literally invented the hot dog in the mid-19th century. Handwerker reportedly “lived on free hot dogs,” slept on the kitchen floor of Feltman’s Surf Avenue restaurant, and eventually saved up and borrowed enough cash to started his own frank stand, according to the Coney Island blog Amusing the Zillion.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Frank talk: Hotdog booster George Shea enjoys a frank with Mariana Rios and Manuella Cantauice.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

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