MARKETING HOT DOGS WITH STETHOSCOPES

How do you convince consumers that hot dogs are healthy food? Coney Island hot dog entrepreneur Nathan Handwerker did it with stethoscopes, says writer Bob Bly in his book “All American Frank: A History of the Hot Dog” (http://www.bly.com/AllAmericanFrank).

Handwerker’s price of a nickel per dog couldn’t overcome public worries about the quality of the meat. There was a perception that processors used tainted beef.

So as Bob recounts, Handwerker “hired good-looking young college men to stand around his cart eating hot dogs. He had each student wear a white lab coat and a stethoscope.” People assumed that the young men were doctors, and if doctors were willing to eat Nathan’s hot dogs, they must be wholesome.

I don’t know about the health value, but having enjoyed a Nathan’s dog (with cheese and bacon) at Coney Island, I can testify that they’re delicious. And judging from the lines at the stand, the company’s marketing has been remarkably successful.

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