Famous Nathan

We all love a good rags-to-riches story. They fuel the so-called American Dream. The steel industry figured prominently in one such narrative. Blue jeans in another. However, one of the more unlikely success stories revolves around the humble frankfurter. Famous Nathan tells the remarkable story of Nathan Handwerker, who emigrated from Poland to the US as a 22-year-old in 1912, unable to read or write a word of English. Four years later, Nathan was selling franks on Coney Island for five cents, and the combination of quality and affordability soon made Nathan’s Famous a household phrase in New York. Nathan’s grandson, Lloyd Handwerker, has spent the past 30 years filming interviews with family members, former employees and Coney Island merchants. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interview footage, archival film, home movies and rare audio recordings, Handwerker weaves them together to eloquently tell the tale of Nathan the fast food pioneer, upstanding member of the Jewish community and family man. Beloved by his employees and his grandchildren, but feared by his sons, Nathan built an iconic business from scratch that the next generation couldn’t sustain. Famous Nathan is a quintessentially American tale of food, family and faith. Grab a frank (kosher, of course) on the way into the theater and enjoy. —Mark Valentine
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