Morning Remembrance Portraits by Nathan Smith copyright 2011
Murray Handwerker, who transformed his dad’s local hot dog business into something even worse, a national hot dog business, is now completely out of business.
The 89 year-old reportedly died of heart failure after a particularly arduous night spent deboning his meat.
It was way back in 1916 that Murray’s father, Nathan, started the little Coney Island hot dog stand with nothing more than a pocket full of gumption and an acceptable level of rat hair and insect parts.
The stand soon became an American legend, and like Coney Island’s amusement parks, its name became virtually synonymous with hot dogs and the sound of people screaming in stomach pain.
Nathan’s Famous hot dogs became so popular that President Franklin D. Roosevelt served them to the King and Queen of England on their 1939 visit to America. The story goes that when lunchtime came around the Queen decided she wanted to play a round of Twenty Questions in order to guess what her entrée was going to be, which of course was a delicious Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog.
“Off you go then, Elizabeth,” said His Majesty starting the game.
“Err… Is it hot and delicious?” the Queen asked.
“Yes, Lizzy,” replied the King.
“Oh good,” said the Queen, “Is it bigger than a breadbox?”
“No,” answered the King.
“Oh.” she said, “So it’s NOT a horse’s dick?”
Later in 1945, President Roosevelt had Nathan’s hot dogs sent to the Yalta Conference. Within minutes Roosevelt started a fight over “Who got the Czecho-Coleslaw-Kia,” which ended when Stalin reportedly “slipped Churchill the wiener.”
After World War II ended, Handwerker returned home worn, battle weary, and tired of the relentless dick jokes. Still the ambitious young man knew the time was ripe to expand the business and give every American the chance to taste his hot, juicy durger.
In a recent interview Nathan’s son said that throughout his life the hot dog magnate always ate his frankfurters the same way: “Au naturel.” Which probably explains why he was arrested so many times at Yankee Stadium.
Over the decades Handwerker helped create such iconic ad slogans as, “The World’s Best Frankfurter,” “Nathan’s The Original Famous,” and the memorable, “A Stuck Hot Dog Is Almost Impossible To Dislodge From A Child’s Windpipe.”
Handwerker requested his remains be run through a grinder, mixed with binders and fillers in a vat, forced through tubes into the small intestine of a sheep, and then placed strategically inside Anthony Weiner’s briefs.