Sunday, July 02, 2006

Competitive Eating: Back to the Buns

Image from Nathan's Famous where they report that on May 18, Chestnut set the new record by eating 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, besting adorable Black Widow Sonya Thomas' record of last summer. Note: this record is a separate achievement from winning the contest, but proves Joey's bona fides.

Long-time readers know that SOS (that's Sense of Soot, ya'll) has been since last year's coverage the (undeniably capricious and inconsistent) blogging headquarters for competitive eating stories where summer comes in with a bang and a burp.

In that spirit, check this one about the upcoming famous Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Eating contest held annually in Coney Island and sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).

This year, young up-and-chucker Joey Chestnut is seen as a serious contender against sylphlike phenom Takeru Kobayashi of Japan who's outdistanced the competitition by many, many foot-longs for the last four years, although Chestnut almost ate TK's lunch at a recent Krystal hamburgers challenge. Additional info redacted from the AP report by Larry Mc Shane:

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Chestnut is warming up for his East Coast showdown by downing 40 hot dogs or more in a single sitting, twice a week.

Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., is the great American hope at reclaiming the mustard yellow belt symbolic of gastronomic greatness (or sheer gluttony). Since July 4, 2001, the belt - presented annually at the original Nathan's hot dog stand - has remained wrapped around Kobayashi's incredibly thin waist.

Frankly, there's no questioning Kobayashi's credentials. He remains the Nathan's hot dog record holder, with 53 1/2 franks on July 4, 2004 - one frank every 13.45 seconds.

Last year, in his Coney Island debut, an admittedly unfocused Chestnut finished in third place with 32 hot dogs. It was a good experience for several reasons, but particularly because it offered him a close-up look at Kobayashi.

"He's a real humble guy," Chestnut said. "He's a sportsman, and he treats it like sport. He's a good guy, and I love competing against him."

Truly, this is a sport of kingly appetites and noble hearts.

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