Wednesday, July 18, 2007


In continuing our tradition of unusual sports legends, I have to feature the incomparable six time Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Champion, Takeru Kobayashi, who, this year, was narrowly beaten by a relative unknown, Joey Chestnut, of San Jose, CA., the home of quiche and tofu. Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, edging out Kobayashi, who was able to down only 63. In all fairness to Kobayashi, he arrived at the tournament suffering from a jaw injury and was worked on intensely by his trainers until shortly before the event, but he nevertheless came up short.

Kobayashi, a native of Nagano, Japan, stands 5'7" and weight about 131 pounds, in stark contrast to some of the more portly contestants. For example, in the 2003 competition, William (Refrigerator) Perry, the 400 pound former NFL star known for his prodigious eating habits, also competed, but came up far behind the rest of the field.

During his salad days, Kobayashi won the six championships handily. As a 110 pound rookie in 2001, he ate 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes, doubling the previous world record of 25. He put on some weight in subsequent years, eating 50 1/2 hot dogs in 2002; 44 1/2 in 2003; 53 1/2 in 2004; 49 in 2005 and 53 3/4 in 2006; against slimmer competition.

Kobayashi revolutionized the "sport" of eating by developing the "Solomon Method" of breaking each hot dog in two, dipping the buns in water or 7-Up, and then stuffing both sides in his mouth at once.

The competition has bulked up in recent years with increased cash prizes--up to $10,000. The Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held each year since 1918, but the competition has never been as intense as it was this year. The 2007 event brought in an estimated crowd of 50,000 people to view the gastronomic feast.

Kobayashi may be a celebrity in the eating world, but he was handed his lunch by a 1089 pound Kodiak bear in a 2003 made-for-TV eating competition which I had the dubious privilege of viewing over the Internet. The bear ate all 50 hot dogs (without buns) placed before it in 2 minutes and 36 seconds. Kobayashi was left in the dust, consuming only 31.

He has proved himself to be a man of many tastes. Last year he ate 58 Johnsonville brats in 10 minutes. The previous record of 35 was set the previous year by Sonya Thomas, who was apparently on a diet. At another event, he ate 97 Krystal hamburgers in 8 minutes. In 2005 in Hong Kong, he ate 83 vegetarian dumplings in 8 minutes, and the following day, ate 100 roasted pork buns in 12 minutes. He also won the Alka Seltzer US Open of Competitive Eating, broadcast on ESPN. He has certainly shown himself to be a connoisseur (common sewer?) of fast food.

To compete, one must seriously train for such gastronomic feats. Kobayashi undergoes weight training, working out and body building, which has kept his body fat under 10%. The excess calories he consumes are quickly used up in training. Also he has a condition called gastroptosis, which is an abnormal downward displacement of his stomach which allows him to consume large quantities of food. The net effect is that he consumes an average of 6000 calories a day without apparent adverse effects.

But if you're planning to meet him for dinner, insist on separate checks.




Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home