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Who Was Nathan From Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs?

This year’s Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating champions Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas (Getty Images)

For the seventh straight year Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California won the Nathan’sConey Island hot dog eating contest by eating a record 69 hot dogs with buns in 10 minutes.  And Sonia Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, the Black Widow, won the women’s division by eating 36 and ¾ hot dogs.  She had hoped to eat 50.

The contest has been held on the Fourth of July at Coney Island every year since 1916 at what is considered the birth place of hot dogs in America.

The story goes Charles Feltman was a German immigrant who started selling smoked, spiced frankfurters from a push cart at Coney Island in 1867.  He did a pretty good business so others began doing the same thing while at the same time spreading rumors that Feltman’s frankfurters were actually made of dog meat.  From that came the term hot dogs.

The rumors didn’t really affect his business.  In fact he did so well that he opened a restaurant and beer garden.  And business really took off.  One of the young employees he hired was a part-time delivery boy and roll slicer – his name was Nathan Handwerker.  The following year Nathan opened his own hot dog stand and it grew into a multi-million dollar empire.

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