Nathan’s History category

Ed Krachie, the 1995 & 1996 Nathan's hot dog eating champion, has a twitter at @edkrachie.
Today is the 50th anniversary of a ceremony held at Nathan's Coney Island location on June 30, 1967 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the invention of the hot dog. At that event, Walter Paul reportedly ate 127 hot dogs. (A picture of an unnamed model at the centennial)
Gersh Kuntzman, called "the original competitive-eating beat reporter" for his coverage of Nathan's hot dog contest around the turn of the century, wrote a column for the NY Daily News that he described as "a case for political assassinations ... when the victim works for Putin or Hitler".
DNAInfo reports that a federal grand jury will not bring charges against former Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes for using money from civil forfeiture to pay Mortimer Matz for public relations services after determining that Matz' work was non-political and the expenditure was legal. In the early 1970s, Mortimer Matz founded Nathan's hot dog eating contest with Max Rosey. In May, the that indictments were looming in the case.

Donald Trump & competitive eating chronology

A timeline listing the intersection of the worlds of competitive eating and the 2016 Republican presidential candidate follows:

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Brooklyn Eagle reports that the Corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island were named Nathan and Ida Handwerker Way on September 24 in honor of the founder of Nathan's Famous and his wife.

1916-71 Nathan’s eating contest “history” in “Eat This Book”

Pages 58-61 from “Eat This Book” about the “history” of Nathan’s Famous eating contest can be viewed below (click on pages to enlarge) or by using Google Books. The section treats the 1916 origin story as a historical fact instead of an “urban legend”.

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“Famous Nathan” book released

“Famous Nathan: A Family Saga of Coney Island, the American Dream, and the Search for the Perfect Hot Dog” a book by Lloyd Handwerker, a grandson of Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan’s famous was released yesterday. Lloyd Handwerker will give a talk about the book tonight at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn.

In the book, Lloyd Handwerker corroborates the claim made by Mortimer Matz in a 2010 New York Times interview that the 1916 origin story for Nathan’s is a fabrication.

(image from page 5 of the book)
update Jun 23Daily Beast has an article about the book with this paragraph about the contest:

So, what would Nathan have thought about the modern-day popularity of the hot dog eating contest? Lloyd was a bit hesitant when I asked him. “Some of the old timers are disgusted by it,” he admitted. While he wasn’t sure if his grandfather would have agreed with them, he “couldn’t deny the advertising impact on the company.” But on the other-hand “he hated waste” and each night he even inspected the garbage to see what people weren’t finishing.

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Time Out New York has a list of 12 interesting facts about the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

New books out about Nathan’s Famous

The Village Voice has an article about Famous Nathan, a book about the history of the hot dog restaurant that will be released June 21 co-authored by Lloyd Handwerker, a grandson of the company founder. The book is a companion to the 2014 documentary by the same name and will include a debunking of the 1916 contest origin myth. Another book Nathan’s Famous: The First 100 Years of America’s Favorite Frankfurter Company by William Handwerker, who is also a grandson of the founder, was released on May 10.

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1978 Nathan’s Memorial Day hot dog eating contest

In the 1970s, Nathan’s held Coney Island hot dog eating contests throughout the summer. Here is the account of the 1978 Memorial Day contest from the Google News Archive. (note the 1917 contest origin year).

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The New York Daily News has an article about the history of Nathan's Famous which treats the 1916 origin story for the hot dog eating contest as factual. Competition co-founder Mortimer Matz admitted the tale was a fabrication in a 2010 New York Times interview.
The Huffington Post has a review of Famous Nathan, a documentary about the history of Nathan's Famous.
The AP Archive has posted videos of a late 1990s (probably 1998) Nathan's weigh-in overseen by Rudy Guiliani and contest held in Schweikert's Alley won by Hirofumi Nakajima. (Additional AP archive eating contest videos)
Coneypedia posted a picture of actress Thelma Pelish from a 1958 newspaper. The caption says she ate 25 hot dogs at Charcoal Dan's in Coney Island, beating Babe Ruth's hot dog record of 24. (I think 25 hot dogs would remain the American female record for a Coney Island contest for the rest of the 20th century.(IMDB page)

Hot Dog 148th anniversary / “Little Arlene” photoshop

Today is the 48th anniversary of an event held at Nathan’s Famous Coney Island location on June 30, 1967 to commemorate the centennial of the invention of the hot dog in 1867. The UPI reported that Walter Paul ate 127 hot dogs in an hour at that celebration. This is the first Nathan’s hot dog eating contest that can be found in online news archives.

Research has not been able to turn up any more information about the competition, but a picture taken at that event of a bathing-suit clad model holding a plate of hot dogs has been circulating on social media. I have not been able to determine the name of the model or the original image source.

A modified version of this image was used in ESPN’s documentary about the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA to illustrate big-eating “Little Arlene”, a halftime performer for that franchise. (direct link to image in youtube video.) I doubt the woman was Arlene, but I have never seen a picture of her.

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NY Daily News has an article on the controversial comments about New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito made by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who finished 3rd in the 1994 Nathan's finals.
The original location of Nathan's Famous makes an appearance in a New York Observer article about the history of Coney Island redevelopment efforts.
Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa, third place finisher in the 1996 Nathan's finals, is calling for investigation of PED usage in competitive eating on his facebook. (Red Angel Dragnet, a song about the Guardian Angels by The Clash)

A history of the “history”: the Nathan’s origin story

The following chronology attempts to trace the development of the origin story for Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest using public news archives.
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Flashback: Brigit Felden (2nd from right) of Cologne, West Germany is the first non-American to win the Nathan's finals in 1984 (9.5 hot dogs in 10 mminutes). She is also the last female winner of the pre-2011 unified-gender contest.
According to a review by Paste Magazine, Andrew Lewis Conn’s new novel, O, Africa opens with Babe Ruth competing a hot dog eating contest at Nathan's Famous in 1927.
The New York Daily News reports that Mortimer Matz, co-founder of Nathan's hot dog eating contest in 1972, has been subpoenaed as part of a probe of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who allegedly paid Matz' firm over a million dollars from state asset forfeiture funds from 2003 to 2013.

Mortimer Matz in grand larceny investigation

update June 4 The Jewish Week reports that one service Matz did provide is suggest a press conference after the DA’s office declined to pursue a pedophilia case with an Orthodox Jewish defendant. Matz’ partner in Matz, Blancato and Associates: Robert Blancato says that he never received any of the state funds and claims that Matz was essentially a figurehead who had no significant role at the firm since before 2003.

The New York Times has an article about former Nathan’s Famous promoter Mortimer Matz, whose public relations firm allegedly received more than $200,000 of NY State funds from former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in 2012 and 2013. The money was originally acquired by confiscating the assets of people convicted of drug crimes and intended for law enforcement purposes. The payment could result in grand larceny charges for Hynes for misuse of government funds. From 2003 to 2013, Matz’ firm received a total of $1.1 from the DA’s office for “public relations and community services”. ( Gothamist | NY Daily News | NY Times)

In 2010 Matz admitted fabricating the 1916 origin story for Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest. In the same interview, he ironically offers the advice: “Morty Matz always tells the truth”.

Allegations about Matz in the New York City Department of Investigation’s Findings on Charles J. Hynes follow:
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The Guardian has an excerpt from Think Like a Freak, the new book by the authors of Freakonomics with a section about Takeru Kobayashi doubling the Nathan's hot dog record.  There is also a section about the requirement in Van Halen's contract for a bowl of M&Ms with no brown candies.  
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