Yesterday, the top dog died. Mervy Handwerker passed away at the age of 89. He did it quite quietly, like all too many aging New Yorkers from his era, not in the city that made him, but in a state that was all to happy to help re-introduce him to the nameless masses passing through it, his current home in Florida.
He might not have invented the hot dog, but he sure helped make it a part of pop culture the way it is today. Nathan’s in Coney Island is an institution, period. End of story. Try to re-define the dog any way you chose, but Nathan’s will forever and always be that brand that no matter how we were first introduced will always hold a special legacy in our hearts. Not for the chaos of Brooklyn’s constantly redefining boardwalk neighborhood, nor the stuff-your-gut contests, or the ballpark franks that are as engraned in the local and national heritage, but because of what Nathan’s meant to our own personal backyard bbq identities, even if that was never the brand of choice.
It might not be the quaint stand it once was, but the shot has endured every upswing and down turn and the name has become synomomyous with the New York culinary legacy as much as any other name on the international scale. All this for a roll of meat wrapped in a slice of bread.