More than forty thousand people will gather this afternoon in Brooklyn, New York, to celebrate that most American of attributes - full out, non-apologetic gluttony.
Happy Fourth of July, everybody!
Today is the day competitive eaters from around the globe gather at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs in an attempt to break the world’s record for eating boiled weenies. In a ten-minute televised contest, a dozen or so slack-jawed, stomach stretching individuals will shove hot dogs into their mouths, swallowing as quickly as possible until the timekeeper mercifully announces that the contest is over.
That’s when the real fun begins.
They don’t televise that part.
I know that sports lovers are eagerly awaiting some statistics and I won’t make them wait. Joey Chestnut, a future cardiac arrest victim, holds the current world’s record for hot dog eating. Last year he devoured fifty-nine hot dogs and buns in a period of ten minutes.
While it’s probably largely pointless for me to continue, I’ll keep typing some words while your brain wraps itself around that figure. No matter what I talk about from here to the end of this column, you won’t be paying any attention. Your eyes will follow along, but I know full well that your brain is now stuck on one, singular thought.
Fifty-nine hot dogs in ten minutes?!
Let’s do the math, shall we? The typical dog and bun weighs in at one-fifth of one pound. That means this guy ate twelve pounds of hot dogs in ten minutes.
It’s not his only record.
Mr. Chestnut also holds current world’s records in the following categories: macaroni and cheese (ten pounds in seven minutes), chicken wings (nine pounds in twelve minutes) and hamburgers (one hundred three Krystal Burgers in eight minutes).
Here’s a tip – don’t invite him to your cookout.
As I mentioned, today’s contest is televised on one of the fourteen or so ESPN channels and has become a Fourth of July tradition in some households. I must warn those new to watching competitive eating on television, though. There is a chance that during your mid-afternoon viewing things will go awry. A person’s digestive system (no matter how trained) is not meant to be force-fed. Sometimes, the body rejects the hot dog.
In competitive eating circles, they call this event a “reversal of fortune”.
No one said being a world’s champion was pretty.
I’ll be manning the grill, turning the dogs and burgers at the precise moment today, making sure that everyone is picture perfect before serving. And as I savor the greatest food known to man, I will pause between bites to thank the heavens above that I am not, even for one afternoon, Joey Chestnut.
And I will really, really give thanks again later tonight.