Coney Island: Birthplace of the Hotdog

A hotdog is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun as a sandwich. It was in the year 1870, when a German immigrant in Coney Island, New York, USA, began selling sausages in a bun, and it is considered that this was the birth of what we now know as the hotdog! Apart from a nice beach and plenty of fun fair rides, Coney Island perhaps remains most famous for its classic hotdogs even to this day!

Coney Island is a great getaway from the city lights!
Coney Island is a great getaway from the city lights!

Hotdogs can be found all over the United States and are considered by some to be the perfect snack food, especially at funfairs and sporting events, such as baseball games. This is what makes Coney Island such a great place to visit for fans of the hotdog! Certain areas of the US have their own style of hotdog, such as, of course, the Coney Island Hotdog, the Meaty Michigan Hotdog, and the Chicago-style Dog. So when in New York City, the chance to come and check out the “Coney” on Coney is simply irresistible!

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A double whammy!
A double whammy!

Travelling the globe is one thing, but trying local foods is quite another, and I was really looking forward to tucking in to my famous Nathan’s Coney Island hotdog. I don’t remember trying any other variety of American hotdog before, so this Coney Island hotdog was a dream come true. All of the sudden, I forgot I was in the Big Apple, and just enjoyed munching on my ‘dog’ while taking in the sea view of the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately for me, it was a warm day, so it made the ‘dog’ taste all the better – although next time I will be a little more sparing on the mustard…

The beach at Coney Island
The beach at Coney Island

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Currently, Coney Island has two amusement parks, namely “Luna Park” and “Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park”, as well as several independent rides that are not incorporated into either theme park. Coney Island’s amusement area is one of a few in the United States that is not controlled by a large theme park magnate (such as Disney, Universal, or Six Flags), and I really would love to compare it to the fair at Santa Monica Beach in Los Angeles one day, which I presume would have a similar vibe.

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Hotdog stands and trucks sell hot dogs at various locations around Coney Island. I was always wondering about how people eat so many of these fattening foods and then get on rollercoasters at the funfair! Surely it must make them sick? Speaking of making you sick, there is also an annual event on Coney Island where probably the most famous seller of hotdogs in the US – Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs – hosts a hotdog eating competition every July 4th! It would be cool to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere on such a day (I am told the beaches here are jam packed on Independence Day, too), but I don’t think I could ever partake in this American custom. I wouldn’t be able to eat too much – my stomach is more accustomed to the sizes of Asian portions!

Choripan from Argentina
Choripan from Argentina
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A Korean-style hotdog with kimchi and nori (seaweed) toppings

As time passes by, hotdogs really prove they are ‘top dogs’ by becoming more and more prominent across the world – not just on Coney Island. Along with hamburgers, hotdogs are probably the ultimate fast food, and one of the major American food icons that foreigners can relate to. In Asia, you can find hotdogs with local toppings such as kecap manis in Indonesia, and kimchi in Korea, while there are “improvements” on the American hotdog (in terms of size and contents), such as the famous choripan from Argentina and the great Gatsby from South Africa, which itself must be the world’s most unhealthy snack!

A trip to Coney Island must certainly be on the itinerary of all visitors to New York City. It is located offshore in the borough of Brooklyn, and can be reached by hopping on the New York Subway to Stillwell Avenue Station. The journey time from downtown Manhattan should take around 45 minutes.

Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs did NOT pay for this free advertising. But I wish they had.

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