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Tag Archives: Nathan’s

The Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest: Drama and Heartburn

6 Jul

July 6, 2010

The Fourth of July: America. Patriotism. Hot Dogs. And a thin Japanese guy.

I have the honor and privilege to live in New York, a town where Mayor “Nanny” Bloomberg makes sure I eat no trans-fat, can’t afford to ride the subway, and has turned Times Square into a no-drive zone. But I digress. (And I just started!)

Specifically, I live in Brooklyn not far from Coney Island and despite what you may have seen in The Warriors (Walter Hill, 1979), it is not filled with graffiti and gangs. Sure, it used to be, but it has undergone a renaissance of sorts. The amusement park is vital, the Brooklyn Cyclones have a state-of-the art minor league baseball stadium, the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus has set up shop for the summer, the boardwalk is as nice a walk as it ever was, and the gangs have moved to Canarsie. And no, the Coney Island Business Improvement District did not pay me for that.

It also has Nathan’s, the Coney Island landmark famous for inventing the hot dog. Every Fourth of July, it plays host to the gem of the professional eating circuit, (and more on them later), the Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This is a fairly disgusting spectacle in which mostly obese and some surprisingly thin people try to smoosh as many wieners down their throats in just a few minutes. It really is gross. They don’t really “eat” the dogs. First, the buns are all crushed together and soaked in water, then jammed en masse into the competitors throats and swallowed. Chew? Ha! No time! Then the franks are taken, whole, dipped in water (for lubrication) and shoved down the throats of the competitors. The crowd goes wild, kids scream, teenagers laugh, and men unsure of their sexuality shuffle uncomfortably as quickly wiener after wiener gets slurped down.

The winner this year, as in the past few years, was a guy calling himself Joey Chestnut and he is the number one ranked professional eater (I’m still getting to it.) In years past, his main competition was rail-thin professional eater named Koybashi Maru. (Don’t get it? Google it.) But this year, all Hell broke loose:

Here is the story from real-deal professional writer Ben Muessig on AOL (that still exists?), and as a bonus, it saves me a lot of work having to type it all up:

Kobayashi Arrested at New York Eating Contest
(July 4 ) — Talk about an upset stomach.

After bailing out of this year’s Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest over a contract disagreement, competitive eating legend Takeru Kobayashi rushed the stage in Coney Island only to be arrested by police.

Moments after Joey “Jaws” Chestnut took home his fourth straight Mustard Belt at the famed Independence Day eating contest, Kobayashi tried to take the stage.

Carrying a large rucksack and wearing a “Free Kobi” T-shirt, the six-time Nathan’s winner got onto the platform beside the competitors before police dragged him off the stage and into custody.

A New York City Police Department spokeswoman confirmed to AOL News that the famed Japanese eater was arrested, though the “charges haven’t been drawn up yet.”

Days before the event, Kobayashi told the press he was dropping out of competitive eating’s biggest contest because Major League Eating officials wanted to bar him from participating in outside competitions.

But in the minutes before the Nathan’s contest began, Kobayashi shocked the fans in Coney Island when he appeared in crowd, sitting atop a supporter’s shoulders with one fist in the air.

The 10-minute feeding frenzy went as expected, with the heavily-favored Chestnut establishing an early lead and chewing his way through 54 hot dogs and buns — 14 fewer than his record from last year.

However, the real entertainment came after the contest ended.

With the crowd chanting “Let him eat,” Kobayashi ascended the stage and clung to the barricades while police tried to drag him away.

Some experts, including contest judge and competitive eating journalist Gersh Kuntzman, said Kobayashi’s arrest is a sign the famed athlete — who lost the prior three Nathan’s contests to Chestnut — is past his prime.

“What I saw were the actions of a desperate man,” Kuntzman told AOL News.

Major League Eating Executive Director George Shea said Kobayashi’s attempt to take the stage was “inappropriate,” but shouldn’t tarnish the reputation of a man who brought competitive eating to another level.

“None of it diminishes the fact that he is a great champion,” said Shea. “The truth is that Nathan’s Famous, the fans, and Major League Eating want to resolve all of this and have him up there.”

Though Kobayashi’s antics might have stolen the show, Chestnut chewed his way to another decisive victory, easily out-eating second place finisher Tim “Eater X” Janus, who downed 45 hot dogs and buns, and third place finisher Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, who put away 37 hot dogs and buns.

But according to competitive eating legend Ed “Cookie” Jarvis, Chestnut could have consumed far more frankfurters if his biggest rival, Kobayashi, had a seat at the table.

“It was kind of boring this year,” Jarvis told AOL News. “It was missing Kobayashi. He would have pushed Joey [Chestnut] a lot harder.”

Yes, there is a Major League Eating, er League, and yes, ESPN (their motto: With Nine Channels We Have A Lot Of Dead Air To Fill) covered the thing. But I had to reread the article to make sure I read “competitive eating journalist Gersh Kuntzman” correctly. He had to make that up.

According to their website, the MLE also plays host to such events as:

  • The World Rib Eating Championship
  • The Freaky Fast Sandwich Makers vs. Sandwich Eaters Contest
  • Pizza Hut Pizza Eating Chow-Lenge
  • Ribmania Eating Championship
  • The Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating World Championship

Do you know what a Rocky Mountain Oyster is? I know you won’t believe me, but maybe you’ll believe Wikipedia, which tests show is fatal 28% of the time.

Rocky Mountain Oysters are, and maybe you should skip ahead past this….

Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

According to Wikipedia, Rocky Mountain Oysters are….

Don’t blame me, I warned you…

Rocky Mountain Oysters, also known as prairie oysters, are a North American culinary name for edible offal, specifically buffalo or bull testicles. They are usually peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, sometimes pounded flat, then deep-fried. This delicacy is most often served as an appetizer.

On the other hand, the web site boasts that “Pickles are back for 2010!”

I think it best to end this with MLE’s own disclaimer:

MLE strongly opposes and discourages home training of any kind. MLE also strongly discourages younger individuals from eating for speed or quantity under any circumstances. MLE urges all interested parties to become involved in sanctioned events — do not try speed eating home.

I would add that if you are training for the Rocky Mountain Oyster challenge, please don’t castrate the bulls yourself.

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