July 5, 2004

Unusual Patriotic Display?

"The hot dog eating contest is not only a beautiful display of athleticism, it is a fundamental way for citizens of all nations to display patriotism," said Wayne Norbitz, president of Nathan's Famous.
So says this article about Nathan's Famous 86th annual hot dog eating contest held each fourth of July in Coney Island, New York. The winner this year, for his fourth consecutive victory, downed 53-1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes. That's quite a few hot dogs, isn't it? Like enough to feed a couple baseball teams.

I personally think true Athletic Patriots would want at least ketchup too, but evidently these Athletic Patriots eat their hot dogs plain. To me, a hot dog is just not a hot dog without ketchup. And relish. And just a touch of mustard. Maybe a few onions. And if I'm really really lucky, my mom's homemade coleslaw prepared in true Southern style. (And now that I think about it, I haven't had my mom's coleslaw in quite a while. I think a special request may be in order. She makes awesome coleslaw.)

I've only witnessed one eating contest myself and I wish I could have those minutes of my life back to use differently. It was a blueberry pie eating contest at some local fair way back. Like way back when I was still a dependent on my parent's tax returns. Yeah. A long time ago. Made a real impression on me. It was disgusting. Blueberry pie smeared faces and losing contestants puking under the table. Some things are just better left undone, if you know what I mean. I've managed to avoid displays of such esurience since.

I enjoy chewing my food before swallowing. Taking the time to savor the taste is nice too. Evidently, however, there are lots of folks who enjoy those cram-as-much-food-in-your-mouth-as-you-can-as-quickly-as-you-can-and-then-somehow-get-it-into-your-stomach contests. These contests are prevalent enough that there is a organization, the International Federation of Competitive Eating which keeps track of the title holders in these events of gormandizing. They also have their own circuit of recurring tournaments.

I find it interesting that the same fellow who won the hot dog eating contest also holds the record for cow brains, having sucked down 17.7 pounds in only 15 minutes! (How many cows brains are in a pound? Do I really want to know?) It appears there is a limited pool of people who are actually good at devouring massive amounts of various food types in record time as there are quite a few repeats on the title holders list. The food changes but the names remain the same. One of them is a tiny little woman from my own city: Sonya Thomas! She's quite the little glutton. Among other records, she is the Federation's reigning champ at hard boiled eggs (65 in 6 minutes 40 seconds... Cool Hand Luke, anyone?) and cheesecake (11 pounds of Downtown Atlantic cheesecake in eleven minutes!).

All that crazy eating and she still maintains her weight around 100 lbs. She should bottle her metabolism and sell it.

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