Tuesday, March 15, 2016

French Fry Diary 689: Famous Nathan

I like documentaries, so there's that, but folks that know me know the real reason I watched Famous Nathan, the bio-doc about Nathan Handwerker and his restaurant empire Nathan's Famous. Yeah, for the fries.

Regular readers know that I count Nathan's Famous Jumbo Crinkle Cut French Fries among the best fast food franchise fries, so of course I'd like some possible background on them. While Famous Nathan is a doc on Nathan Handwerker, you never know, there might be some insight on the fries.

The first thing on that front that caught my attention were the old pictures of the original Nathan's at Coney Island. The price I saw for fries (although the potato chips were more prevalent, at least in the old days) was five cents, which is cool, but I also noticed something else.

Nathan's had a lot of stuff for sale like malteds, different flavored sodas, hamburgers, potato chips, and roast beef. Look close, you'll even see fried sea food, barbeque, and chow mein. Clam chowder, frog's legs, shrimp - what couldn't you get at Nathan's?

The bio-doc goes on to reconstruct Nathan's journey to America, his rise in his chosen field, include interviews with family and friends, as well as feuds. Everyone in the doc is a larger than life character who plays a part in the world of famous Nathan and his empire on that corner in Coney Island. This is a delicious treat full of wonderful stories.

Fries aside, Famous Nathan, while failing in the best way as a biography because Nathan Handwerker was a hard man to get a handle on, the film is an amazing look at the American Jewish experience in the 20th century. The home movies may be of a specific famous family, but the tales are that of every family. This is America. Highly recommended.

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