Hot Dog Festival Exalts Hot Dog Dynasties Started by Immigrants

June 30, 2017 Updated: June 30, 2017

In honor of July being National Hot Dog Month, five iconic hot dog family businesses joined together at the Hot Dog Summit on Ellis Island Wednesday, June 28 to celebrate their immigrant history and delicious food.

Nathan’s Famous, Walter’s, Sabrett, Hebrew National, and Vienna Beef–most of whose founders emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island–came together for the opening of a new exhibit about the history of hot dogs in America.

The temporary exhibit, titled “Hot Out of the Melting Pot—A History of the Hot Dog in America,” will run through the month of July and was produced by Evelyn Hill Inc., which manages food vendors at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

With Independence Day just around the corner, everyone felt it was a fitting time for the feast of American food and celebration of U.S. history.

Gene-Christian Baca, who is responsible for business development at Walter’s and is a fourth-generation member of the family business, found the collaboration between the five vendors fitting for the occasion.

“It shows the camaraderie, it shows what America is all about as well—people with different backgrounds, entrepreneurs with different backgrounds—all really coming together for a great cause.”

Nathan’s Famous was founded by Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant, who launched a stand in Brooklyn’s Coney Island in 1916.

According to The Journal News, Sean Roemig, Northeastern regional sales manager of Nathan’s Famous, thought the event had the potential to become an annual tradition. “It’s been a lot of fun so far,” he said.

Organizers said the event aimed to create a family-friendly environment to learn about immigration history.

“One day it sort of came around and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to do a hot dog [event] because a hot dog is fun, you know?”‘ said Bob Uffer, general manager of Evelyn Hill Inc.

The exhibit kicked off with the five vendors grilling and handing out hot dogs to museum visitors, and showcasing a display of their family business histories.