Nathans Famous – A remarkable business

July 4th, The United States celebrated Independence Day complete with a national holiday commemorating the the Declaration of Independence. 

If you happen to be in Coney Island, US on July 4th you’re probably there to celebrate something very different but at the same time very American, the Annual Hot Dog World Championships. Legend has it that this annual celebration commenced in 1916 after four immigrants decided to prove to one another who was the most patriotic by who could eat the most hot dogs.

95 years later the competition is going form strength to strength attracting thousands of spectators who witness the showdown that takes place at Nathan’s Famous, the hot dog restaurant responsibile for the birth of this very American eat-off. As well as playing host since 1916, Nathan’s Famous sponsors the event and has the important task of replinishing the participants with as many hot dogs as they can stomach. The aim of the challenge is to see how many hot dogs you can eat within a 10 minute period, complete with bun.

Nathan’s Famous

Nathans Famous has become synonymous with this annual food challenge and has helped define their business and in doing so, creating a key differentiator from the many other fast food competitors across the US, brands such as Mcdonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, and Wendy’s.

But take away their fast foods eateries corporate brands, how do you differentiate between say a Mcdonalds and Burger king meal? It’s hard…the key factor seems to be on price i.e. who can deliver a fast food meal to the consumer as the lowest price possible?

After reading Purple Cow by Seth Godin, the focus of the book is how to transform your business by being remarkable. The book aims to provide you insights and to help you understand how your business can stand out in a crowded market place, how you can differentiate your product or service from your competitors.

None more so than the fast food sector do you need a Purple Cow to survive, you truly have to have a remarkable product, service or story in order to surive and by being remarkable is possibly the only routes to market, none more so than Nathan’s Famous.

The company was founded by a polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker in 1916. Nathan was one of the original 4 immigrants who decided to challenge one another to prove how patriotic they were to the US. This has now turned into an annual event, every July 4th – the World Hot Dog Championships, which is now broadcast through ESPN since 2004.

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs

So the Purple Cow for Nathans? It’s playing to the American population of delivering an annual world Championships and in doing so has created a key differentiator away from just price but creating a national buzz around Nathans. Is it a success? – you only have to ask ESPN that, they are in the 7th year of broadcasting the event through their digital channel and at the same time, creating a brand from nothing for Nathans

So who won the 2011 Hot Dog Championships?

Step Forward four time eating champion Joey Chestnut – 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes…hats off to you sir:



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