Nathan Handwerker

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Nathan Handwerker (June 14, 1890, Kraków, Poland – March 24, 1974 aged 83) was a Polish-Jewish-American entrepreneur known for creating the Nathan's Famous brand of hot dogs.


Handwerker, a Polish Jew, immigrated to the United States in 1912. In addition to working as a delivery boy, he found work slicing rolls of bread at Feltman's German Gardens, a restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York.[1] The restaurant sold franks (hot dogs) for ten cents a piece at the time.[1]

In 1916, two of Handwerker's co-workers, future actors Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, who worked as singing waiters at Feltman's, challenged Handwerker to start his own hot dog stand selling franks for just five cents a piece.[1] That same year, with $300, Handwerker and his new wife, Ida Handwerker, opened a small hot dog stand with a two-foot grill on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island. They spiced their hot dogs with Ida's secret recipe and sold them for only a nickel.

Handwerker decided to call his hot dog stand Nathan's Famous in 1921 after hearing the song, "Nathan, Nathan Why You Waitin?" by Sophie Tucker playing from a nearby restaurant.[1]

The food stand developed into the fast food chain Nathan's Famous, spearhead by his son, Murray Handwerker.[2][3]

On March 23, 1974, Nathan Handwerker suffered a heart attack at his home in North Port Charlotte, Florida. He died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida, on Sunday, March 24, 1974.[1] He was buried at Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, New York.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Nathan Handwerker obituary". The Daily Sentinel. 1974-03-25. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  2. ^ Abelson, Reed (2011-05-15). "Murray Handwerker, 89, Dies; Made Nathan’s More Famous". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 
  3. ^ "Murray Handwerker dies at 89; Nathan's Famous owner expanded nationwide". Los Angeles Times. 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 

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