Spectators lined Coney Island Tuesday shoulder-to-shoulder, many sporting headgear that captured the essence of the day: Nathan’s foam hot dog hats or blue caps provided by the Antacid Company.
In most of America, the Fourth of July conjures up thoughts of fireworks, family, and cooking. But hours before any of those things begin in earnest, many Americans turn their attention to a curious spectacle that has become another holiday tradition: Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Every year on Independence Day, thousands of spectators, braving the effects of heat and indescribable excitement, watch an elite group of competitive eaters eat as many hot dogs as humanly possible in 10 minutes at an intersection in Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood. .
The definition of humanly possible has meaning for much of the meat-eating world; It has something else for most competitors. This is especially true for defending champions Joey Chestnut and Miki Tsudo, who return to defend their titles and expand the concept of what is humanly possible.
Mr. Chestnut holds the men’s world record for eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes in 2021, while Ms. Sudo holds the women’s world record of 48.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Both are favorites to win.
The women’s pageant began first, and Ms. Sudo, the last of the contestants to be introduced, was described as “a swirling vortex at the center of the American spirit.”
She won, eating 39.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes, six more than her closest competitor, Mayoi Ebihara.
The men’s match, scheduled for noon, was delayed by rain and lightning, sending fans scrambling for cover.
Mr. Chestnut, known as Jazz, won the men’s competition for the 15th time last year after eating 63 hot dogs. Mrs. Sudo won for the eighth time after eating 40 hot dogs.
Legend has it that since 1916, Nathan’s competition has been held every year, with separate divisions for men and women. However, the legend doesn’t match the truth: in 2010, one of the tournament’s original promoters, Mortimer Mattes, admitted that they created it “in the style of a Coney Island pitchman.”
The event actually began in the early 1970s, and its current incarnation is fueled by a supercharged dose of patriotism from George Shea, who oversees the event with his brother Rich Shea.
Over the years, the Shia’s Rudolph W. Giuliani, Michael R. Mayors including Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio presided over weighty ceremonies filled with a line of grunts, slowly persuading. (In 2012, after Mr. Bloomberg issued one such rant famously noted Aloud, “Who wrote this [expletive]?”)
They’ve expanded the Coney Island event into a national showcase for competitive eating hosted by Major League Eating, which describes itself as “the governing body of all stomach-centric sports.” The men’s match will be carried live on ESPN2; The women’s match was shown live on the ESPN app.
For those of you curious, scientists (scientists!) have determined that the human body is capable of eating – at most – 83 hot dogs in 10 minutes, according to a study published in 2020, which is 39 years’ worth. Data from the competition.
According to that paper, the world’s most elite human competition eaters can go toe-to-toe with a grizzly bear in terms of the amount of food eaten per unit time.
Bears can eat eight hot dogs per minute, and Mr. Chestnut can eat 7.5 hot dogs per minute. But the Bears usually knock off about six minutes, while Mr. Chestnut hot dogs can be scarfed down for a solid 10 minutes.
“Most binge eaters use a similar technique: We separate the meat from the bread,” Mr. Chestnut said, In an online video Describes his championship technique. “If you want to eat it fast, you have to dip the bread in water.”
He said he started training for the competition in late April every year, followed by fasting periods followed by practice matches. Eats outside on hot days.
He managed to eat more than 80 hot dogs in 10 minutes on five different occasions during training, but never duplicated that feat in competition.
“A lot of it is psychological and psychological.” he said. “Your body tells you you’re full.”