Charles Feltman

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Charles Feltman (November 8, 1841 – September 20, 1910) was a German-American baker who invented the hot dog in 1867 at Coney Island, New York.

From pushcart to restaurant mogul[edit]

Feltman was born in 1841 in Germany and emigrated to America in 1856, at the age of fifteen.[1] He was familiar with the frankfurter, named for Frankfurt-am-Main in his native land. Feltman's operation began operating a pushcart pie wagon at the Coney Island beach in 1867, selling food to beachgoers. In 1869 he came up with the idea of inserting a frankfurter in a specially-made elongated roll which could conveniently be held and eaten on the street or at the beach. Feltman called his 1869 creation the Coney Island red hot, and it was soon the eating rage.

Henry Collins Brown, a New York historian, explained its attraction: "It could be carried on the march, eaten on the sands between baths, consumed on a carousel, used as a baby's nipple to quiet an obstreperous infant, and had other economic appeals to the summer pleasure seeker".[citation needed]

However, it took some time for the public to decide what to call Feltman's creation. Frankfurter, sausage, Coney Island red hot; none of them really captured the public's imagination. Coney Island chicken and weenie (from the Austrian wienerwurst) both had their proponents. But it was popular uncertainty about exactly what kind of meat was in these casings that ultimately determined that it would be called "hot dog".[citation needed]

in 1871, Feltman leased land and began building his restaurant complex. It achieved its heyday in the 1920s, serving nearly 5,250,000 people a year, being a large restaurant complex with several restaurants, two bars, a beer garden, a famous carousel, and other attractions, and offering many types of food beyond hot dogs.[2][3][1]

Nathan Handwerker was working at Feltman's as a roll slicer when he quit to found rival Nathan's. Handwerker undersold Feltman (hot dogs for ten cents instead of five) and ran a more downscale operation than Feltman's, but eventually Nathan's became the most successful and iconic Coney Island hot dog purveyor and a nationwide brand which thrived into the 21st century.[4]

Family and business after his death[edit]

Feltman died in 1910 (he is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York)[5][6] after which his family ran the business. Feltman's sons Charles L. Feltman and Alfred F. Feltman and grandson Charles A. Feltman, who had been operating the restaurant, sold the operation in 1946 to Alvan Kallman and others.[1][7][8] The restaurant closed in 1954.[2] The land was later used to construct the Astroland amusement park which opened in 1962 and closed in 2008, subsequently replaced by a new Luna Park. The last remnant of Feltman's – the building that had housed the kitchen – was demolished in 2010.[1]

Charles' Feltman's grandson Charles A. Feltman invented the Shooting Star Tommy Gun,[9] a pneumatic BB machine gun used in fair and amusement park stalls for many decades and continuing well into the 21st century (the device is used by players to shoot out all traces of a red star on a paper target). Shooting Star Games was founded by Charles A. Feltman and continues to manufacture the device in the 21st century.[10] There was for years a shooting gallery on the original Feltman's site.

In the 2010s, entrepreneur Michael Quinn opened a hot dog emporium named Feltman's of Coney Island in New York's East Village, in homage to the original Feltman's and on Memorial Day, 2017, he cut the ribbon on a Coney Island location in the very structure where the aforementioned shooting gallery had been located, on the original Feltman's site.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d Dana Schulz (June 20, 2016). "Before Nathan's There Was Feltman's: The History of the Coney Island Hot Dog". 6sqft. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Scott Lynch (August 23, 2010). "Behind This Tiny Window Is NYC's Best Hot Dog". Gothamist. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  3. ^ Nell Casey (April 14, 2015). "Hot Dog Creator Feltman's May Return To Coney Island". Gothamist. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ UPI (United Press International) (March 25, 1974). "Inventor of Coney Island Cut Hot Dogs to Five Cents". the [Middleport-Pomoroy, Ohio] Daily Sentinel. p. 7. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "The Mausoleum that the Hot Dog Built". Gravely Speaking. September 12, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Richman, Jeffrey I (1998). Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery: New York's Buried Treasure. Green Wood Cemetery. pp. 104–05. ISBN 978-0966343502.
  7. ^ "Alvan E. Kallman, 62, Dies". New York Times. September 4, 1964. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "Feltman Family Sells Famous Coney Resort". Brooklyn Eagle. Brooklyn. April 29, 1946. p. 3. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  9. ^ "Amusement pneumatic machine gun – United States Patent 2801624". Free Patents Online. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  10. ^ "Shooting Star". Shooting Star website. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  11. ^ Scott Lynch (August 23, 2016). "Behind This Tiny Window Is NYC's Best Hot Dog". Gothamist. Archived from the original on July 22, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2017.