Sunday, 12 January 2014
Nathan's Famous is famous for its hotdogs. Nathan Handwerker and his wife, Ida, originally from Poland, started the company as a nickel hotdog stand which sold hotdogs from Ida's special recipe. The hotdogs were instantly popular and the first restaurant opened in Coney Island in 1916.
You can't think hotdogs without thinking hot dog eating competition. As the billboard below boasts, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut won this prestigious gastronomic challenge for the 7th year in a row in 2013 when he ate 69 hotdogs in ten minutes. If you would like to see this incredible, but disgusting feat, you can watch the video below. But this video is not for the faint hearted. I watched with some sense of morbid fascination as contestants, and notably Chestnut, stuff hotdogs into their mouths.
Nathan's Famous Hotdog Eating Contest takes place every year on the 4th of July on Coney Island's boardwalk.
There are a lot of questions about all of this.
Why? is a big one for me.
But competitive eating has been around for a while and has its roots in county fairs and pie-eating contests. Now it is described as a sport and competitors prepare for contest the way marathon runners would prepare for the psychological and physical challenges their sport presents. Competitive eaters prepare to increase their stomach capacities and their speed in consuming the food.
So, in 2013, Joey Chestnut ate 69 sausages in buns and Sonya 'The Black Widow" Thomas won the women's competition on 36 3/4 hotdogs.
Why do the women manage less hotdogs than the men? According to medical type people, women's stomachs are larger than men's. And our intestines are longer. I would have thought that would be an advantage. In many cases, women do manage to eat more than men in competitions, but it can depend on the type of food being eaten and the duration of time. Sonya Thomas says that speed of swallow is a limiting factor for her in the hotdog eating competition, but that her hand to mouth speed is pretty phenomenal.
I couldn't do it. I had a chilli cheese hotdog at Coney Island. Just the one. And it was a challenge in itself to eat it elegantly.
I did not eat it elegantly.