American Jewish food is most typically defined as pastrami sandwiches, chocolate babka, or bagels and lox. But I am here to argue that the greatest American Jewish food may actually be the humble hot dog. No dish better embodies the totality of the American Jewish experience.
What’s that you say? You didn’t know that hot dogs were a Jewish food? Well, that’s part of the story, too.
That’s the start to my article just up at The Nosher. If you want to read the whole thing, here’s the complete article.
And just so you get a drop extra here, I’m including one brief paragraph I had to cut for space reasons:
“Jews’ early success in the American entertainment industry also connects to Nathan’s Famous. Though the name is obviously tied to Handwerker’s given name, he did not use it when he first opened his stand. Only after the Jewish Sophie Tucker had a hit with “Nathan, Nathan, why you waitin’” did he capitalize on the song’s success and name his hot dog joint Nathan’s Famous. Furthermore, it was Jewish vaudeville actor Eddie Cantor (along with the non-Jewish Jimmy Durante) who pushed Handwerker to open his own stand, and who helped publicize Nathan’s as their fame grew.”
So in yet another way, the hot dog represents the true American Jewish experience! Let’s change the old 1970’s ad jingle to “Baseball, Glatt Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet!”