BEHIND-THE-SCENES: An Afternoon On Set Of 'Fast Food Mania'

nathans jon hein fast food maniaHost, Jon Hein, at Coney Island’s Nathans.

Photo: Kirsten Acuna, Business Insider

Rollerskating at Sonic in Oklahoma City, hanging in a turbine at Chipotle in Chicago and going to the country’s busiest—and most exclusive—Subway (FYI: It’s located inside the Pentagon) … all in one week.That’s what Jon Hein does as host of “Fast Food Mania.”

The show, on Discovery Network’s new channel Destination America (formerly Planet Green), will follow the SiriusXM radio host (“The Howard Stern Show” and “Fast Food Show”) as he travels to more than 20 states to visit national chains such as Taco Bell and Wendy’s to more regional places including Jet BBQ in Wichita, KS.

The series will feature 10 episodes which showcase Hein at three to four different locations.

The show isn’t just about fast foods, though. It’s also about learning the history behind the chains.

“I really found an appreciation for what they [fast-food corporations] do and how they do it,” said Hein. “I don’t think people appreciate what happens to get their food … the preparation and history that goes into that meal you’re getting.” 

We went to a taping of the show on Coney Island where we had a blast learning about the history of Nathan’s Famous restaurant chain, how to cook the sweet and crispy fries and ate a few hot dogs. 

And, no, we didn’t challenge Hein to a contest—but we’re sure we could have given him a run for his money.

“Fast Food Mania” premieres tomorrow night, June 3, at 10 p.m. on Destination America. 

Hein's schedule is jam-packed, but exciting. In one week, he visited Krispy Kreme in Williamsburg, N.C., Sonic in Oklahoma City, Chipotle in Chicago, Illinois and Subway in Washington, D.C. Here, the team prepares to film an alternate opening sequence for the Nathan's feature.

The filming didn't go off without a hitch. Nearby hammering and noisy seagulls held up the crew momentarily. Only after a group of men stopped working for a few minutes did the team successfully get a few quick takes of Jon filming the piece's intro.

DID YOU KNOW: Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker, founded Nathan's Famous in 1916 with a small hot dog stand in Coney Island, New York. The recipe for the dogs came from his wife, Ida.

Today, the entire Nathan's complex on Coney Island consists of three buildings the company purchased.

The crew left the boardwalk without Jon. It took them a few minutes before they realised they left the star behind.

Nathan's may have started in New York, but now the chain is in over 40,000 locations nationwide. Since 1916, Coney Island has held Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest every year. Joey Chestnut holds the current record for eating 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

All of Nathan's french fries come from Maine. The franchise has used the same farm's potatoes since opening in 1916.

Not yet, Jon. The fries don't look ready. Plus, you don't even have a fry fork.

We stop production for a minute to film a segment with one of the customers who enters the restaurant.

Bruce Miller, Senior Director Company Operations at Nathan's Famous, Inc., shows Jon the correct way to flip a Nathan's hot dog. We stay back as Miller warns that we could easily burn our skin off cooking at 375 degrees.

Jon takes a stab at it, and after a few tries, has the Nathan's formula down.

Jon puts his cooking to the test. Miller loads his hot dog with Nathan's preferred topping choice, sauerkraut. (Note: Jon detests sauerkraut, but takes a bite like a champ in the name of fast food ... and television production.)

We couldn't leave without eating a dog ourselves. Jon eats his plain—the way he prefers—while we opt for the works. We head out around 6:30 p.m., but Hein stays filming for another hour, finally arriving home around 9 p.m.

Now, check out a clip from the show's Sunday night premiere:

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