NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If there’s one thing Americans love to enjoy on the Fourth of July, it’s hot dogs, and the iconic food has an interesting history behind it.
The hot dog is as American as it gets, and Lloyd Handwerker should know.READ MORE: Crowds Line Streets Of Ridgewood, NJ For Return Of Annual Fourth Of July Parade
“My grandfather was Nathan Handwerker,” he said.
“He came with no English and just enough money to come to Ellis Island,” Handwerker said.
German immigrants brought frankfurters to the United States in the 1800s, but it didn’t become an American symbol right away.
Nathan gained customers when he decided to drop his prices to just 5 cents a dog.
“Once the Depression rolled around, that’s when the business started taking off because you could feed a family of four for under 50 cents,” Handwerker said.READ MORE: Joey Chestnut Discusses New Record At Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Pretty soon, everyone was coming to Coney Island for a dog.
“The sidewalk out here was lined with people pushing in to the counters. The boardwalk was packed,” Handwerker said.
As time passed, hot dogs became synonymous with American culture — at the cook-out, the baseball game and, of course, that Fourth of July tradition, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
It’s hard to say what makes the hot dog so special.
“It’s portable, and it’s quick,” one Nathan’s customer said.
“High quality meat on a bun,” Handwerker said.MORE NEWS: Back With A Bang: New York City Pulls Off Long-Awaited Macy's Fireworks Show
One thing is clear, after more than a century, it’s still an American classic.