Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

July 4 has gone to the dogs

Posted in Observations by Jacob Zinn on July 5, 2009

To readers in the States, happy belated Fourth of July! Yesterday was Independence Day in the United States, the one day a year when people trade political criticism for patriotism, drink only American beer and (used to) light off fireworks.

Since 1916, Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters has held an annual hot dog eating contest that has become an American tradition. Contestants have ten minutes to wolf down as many wieners (with the bun). The winner takes home the Mustard Belt and $10,000, though the cash prize was only introduced in 2007.

The contest has come so far that it is sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, an actual association that organizes, promotes and regulates such contests. Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has a set of rules with judges supervising, and every year, ESPN broadcasts live nationwide.

Contestants must be age 18 or older and make it through some regional qualifying rounds (or be invited by the IFOCE) to compete in the finals. After that, it’s start when the buzzer goes and don’t vomit.

But what’s perhaps most repulsive isn’t how many hot dogs this years wiener winner Joey Chestnut ate (68), but how the number of dogs has gone up in the last 30 years.

2009 – Joey Chestnut – USA – 68 – 6.8 HDB/min.
2008 – Joey Chestnut – USA – 59 – 5.9 HDB/min.
2007 – Joey Chestnut – USA – 66 – 6.6 HDB/min.
2006 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 54 – 5.4 HDB/min.
2005 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 49 – 4.9 HDB/min.
2004 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 53½ – 5.35 HDB/min.
2003 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 44½ – 4.45 HDB/min.
2002 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 50½ – 5.05 HDB/min.
2001 – Takeru Kobayashi – Japan – 50 – 5.0 HDB/min.
2000 – Kazutoyo “The Rabbit” Arai – Japan – 25⅛ – 2.5125 HDB/min.
1999 – Steve Keiner – USA – 20¼ – 2.025 HDB/min.
1998 – Hirofumi Nakajima – Japan – 19 – 1.9 HDB/min.
1997 – Hirofumi Nakajima – Japan – 24½ – 2.45 HDB/min.
1996 – Edward Krachie – USA – 22¼ – 2.225 HDB/min.
1995 – Edward Krachie – USA – 19½ – 1.95 HDB/min.
1994 – Mike DeVito – USA – 20 – 2.0 HDB/min.
1993 – Mike Devito – USA – 17 – 1.7 HDB/min.
1992 – Frank Dellarosa – USA – 19 – 1.9 HDB/min.
1991 – Frank Dellarosa – USA – 21½ – 2.15 HDB/min.
1990 – Mike DeVito – USA – 16 – 1.6 HDB/min.
1989 – Jay Green – USA – 13 – 1.3 HDB/min.
1988 – Jay Green – USA – 14 – 1.4 HDB/min.
1987 – Don Wolfman – USA – 12 – 1.2 HDB/min.
1986 – Mark Heller – USA – 15½ – 1.55 HDB/min.
1985 – Oscar Rodriguez – USA – 11¾ – 1.175 HDB/min.
1984 – Birgit Felden – Germany – – 0.95 HDB/min.
1983 – Luis Llamas – Mexico – 19½ – 1.95 HDB/min.
1982 – Steven Abrams – USA – 11 – 1.1 HDB/min.
1981 – Thomas DeBerry – USA – 11 – 1.1 HDB/min.
1980 – Paul Siederman & Joe Baldini – USA – 9 – 0.9 HDB/min.

In three decades, they’ve gone from 0.9 to 6.8 hot dogs per minute. With the rise of obesity in North America, such celebrations of gluttony shouldn’t be supported by legions of fans passing off competitive eating as sport.

Furthermore, these contestants aren’t just once-a-year competitors; Chestnut and Kobayashi often take part in other food-related contests year-round such as the Krystal Square Off and the Wing Bowl.

I leave you with some trivia regarding Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Trivia
• In 1981, Thomas DeBerry stopped eating after five minutes to attend a family barbecue.
• At the 75th annual contest in 1991, Frank Dellarosa ate 21½ hot dogs to beat the previous record of 17 hot dogs.
• 1993 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest was held under the Brookyln Bridge between Mike DeVito and Orio Ito, the only time the contest has been a one-on-one competition.
• The world record was beaten in 1996 by Edward Krachie with 22.25, then again in 1997 by Hirofumi Nakajima with 24½.
• Keiner ate half a hot dog before the contest, but the judges missed it. He would’ve been disqualified had the judges seen it.
• Kazutoyo “The Rabbit” Arai beats the old record of 24.5 by less than one hot dog, winning with 25⅛ in 2000.
• In 2002, Takeru Kobayashi nearly doubled the previous record, eating 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

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One Response

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  1. waterbugkim said, on July 6, 2009 at 10:31 PM

    Wow, that’s a whole lotta sulfites, nitrites, and nitrates! That guy should be perfectly preserved for eternity! My vote for the best hotdog still has to be Sinai brand Polish hot dogs. They’re $10 US for 10 in a pack, but the pack weighs 2-3 pounds! By the way, Jake, great to see you writing 🙂


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