On July 20, the country celebrates National Hot Dog Day, the commemoration of a delicacy synonymous with New York City and summer. The origins of the hot dog can be traced to German immigrant Charles Feltman, who sold frankfurter sausages on a long bun as a convenient snack for hungry beachgoers during the late 1860s. More than 150 years later, New Yorkers still love hot dogs as a quick and affordable meal and there is no shortage of great spots throughout the city to grab a frank. From internationally-known Nathan’s Famous to local favorites like Papaya King, here are 10 iconic hot dog joints in NYC.
Feltman’s via Boston Public Library
The name Nathan’s has become synonymous with Coney Island, whether it be for the annual hot dog-eating contest or the childhood nostalgia of the boardwalk. It’s also become arguably the biggest name in the hot dog world in general. But, believe it or not, Nathan’s was not the first place to serve up franks in the seaside neighborhood. That distinction goes to Feltman’s, which was begun in 1867 as a pushcart by German immigrant Charles Feltman, considered the inventor of the hot dog on a bun.
While most of New York City’s annual summer activities and celebrations have been canceled or postponed this year because of the coronavirus, one event will still take place. Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest will forge ahead in Coney Island on July 4, but with no fans, fewer eaters, and social distancing measures in place.
For the first time in 47 years, corner hot dog outpost Gray’s Papaya shut down temporarily on March 30. But as was first reported by West Side Rag, the Upper West Side location is now back open for business. In addition to delivery through Seamless and Grubhub, Gray’s is offering window takeout with safe single-serve condiments, and their employees are all wearing masks and gloves. But even more exciting is that they’ve created a special version of their 35-years-running Recession Special.
Photo courtesy of the Public Art Fund
This summer, from June 9th to August 26th, from 12pm to 6pm, Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s Hot Dog Bus will distribute free hot dogs to anyone who agrees to eat it. The Hot Dog Bus, which will be parked at Brooklyn Bridge Park, is presented by the Public Art Fund. The project’s goal is to both get people to eat (is this really a goal we need?) and to think of the human body as a piece of art, specifically as a sculpture. According to the Public Art Fund site, “it is the participation of the viewer that ‘completes’ the work.”