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Where is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest? The story behind the famous Coney Island location

Thousands will descend upon the Big Apple this Fourth of July hoping to witness one of the most beloved — and gluttonous — competitions in the world of sports: Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

It’s not for the weak of heart or stomach. All that processed meat can do a number on both participants and those watching along. The pungency of all those half-smokes piled on top of one another like timber swirls through salty sea air. It swarms the crowd coalescing along the Coney Island boardwalk, delighting some while disgusting others.

Americana is a strange sorceress. Folks flock like seagulls to see their favorite competitive eaters stuff their faces with frank after frank after frank. Millions more watch in their living rooms, desensitized to the stomach-churning ills that have been presented to them.

Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome. Maybe it’s the evolution of sport. Either way, the contest clearly has a grip on the public.

The event is more of a spectacle, flooded with splashiness and music and joyfulness. The host site is far from flashy, but the pilgrims don’t mind; indeed, they bask in the historical significance of the birthplace of the modern-day glick.

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Here’s what you need to know about the site of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest:

Where is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest? 

A host of world-class cuisines can lay claim to the streets of New York, but none of them can hold a candle to the link. Caught in the embrace of a warm bun, charred beyond recognition and topped by the condiment of choice, there’s nothing quite like it.

Hot dogs may have emerged in 19th-century Germany, but no place does them like New York. And of all the places that claim to offer authentic New York glizzies, few hold the gravitas of Nathan’s on Surf Avenue in Brooklyn.

With a neon-lit awning visible from space, it’s hard to miss the iconic storefront. Its walls are scrawled with history, proclaiming loudly that the beachside spot is the cradle of the original Frankfurter.

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Opened in 1916, Nathan’s has had quite the history. Initially a nickel food stand that the brand’s creator and namesake, Nathan Handwerker, opened using a $300 loan from friends and his wife, Nathan’s was something of an oddity at its inception. Handwerker, having previously worked at local eatery Feltman’s, was aghast at the lack of cheaper food options, so he concocted a plan: use his wife’s grandmother’s top-secret hot dog recipe and deal out the links to the masses.

Handwerker also sold the franks at half the price they were going for at Feltman’s. And just to make sure that business would boom, Handwerker hired stooges, outfitted them in white jackets and had them eat his franks. If it was good enough for doctors — or rather, those dressed like doctors — it was good enough for the general public.

The business became a hit. Beef connoisseurs couldn’t get enough of the recipe, setting the stage for millions to make a pilgrimage to the shack that sits on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues.

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When did Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest start?

The inaugural Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest took place on July 4, 1916. As with many things, the idea revolved around money: Handwerker and company wanted to drum up business. As the story goes, Handwerker overheard four immigrants debating who was the “most” American. Handwerker suggested a hot-dog eating competition to settle the argument. An American tradition was born.

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