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6 comments

Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

Posted June 20, 2012 9:25 AM by HUSH

In my hemisphere, summer is ON! 90° F days are in sight, and the sun hangs high until nearly 9 p.m. That means the Fourth of July (the best holiday of them all!) is upon us. Fireworks. BBQ. Swimming. Baseball.

And eating more than 60 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

Oh, that's not part of your holiday tradition, you say? Well I say, "COMMUNIST!"

...via What's Cooking America

Every Fourth of July, the world's best competitive eaters convene at Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs on the boardwalk in Coney Island, N.Y. It began as a friendly bet between immigrant friends in 1916; the one who could eat the most hot dogs was clearly the most patriotic. The contest has been an annual event since 1972.

...via Slash Food

In 2009, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut ate a world record 68 hot dogs, and has placed first in the competition every year since 2007, when he ended the six-year reign of Japan's Takeru Kobayashi. While you might expect these individuals to have a gut like Santa Claus, they're surprisingly fit.

Watch Kobayashi eat-battle a bear!

...via Mun Fitness Blog

...via MLE

There is a reason these "gurgitators" maintain a healthy physical composure. Fat, specifically abdominal fat, limits the amount a stomach can stretch. A typical human stomach has a capacity of one liter, but a competitive eater's stomach can stretch to hold four liters. It's common for competitors to training by drinking gallons of milk, and by eating large quantities of low-fat, high-fiber foods which take longer to digest. There are some other training methods eaters can employ to enhance their eating ability.

The masseter muscle is one of the strongest muscles in the human body, and competitive eaters must develop the muscle to quickly grind food. This muscle is trained by chewing several pieces of gum for hours. A competitive eater can bite with up to 280 pounds of force!

...via Finney Dental

After the food gets past the jaws, it encounters the esophagus. Peristalsis is the name given to the sequential contraction of smooth muscles in the digestive tract. This provides locomotion to food, bringing it to the stomach. However, this process takes about ten seconds, which is valuable food consumption time. To quicken the swallowing of food, eaters will use the Valsalva maneuver to increase thoracic pressure. This is done by blocking in the airways, but attempting to exhale. Observers will also witness competitors jumping around to physically force the food into the stomach.

A major attribute in aggressive consumption is also willpower. The feeling of hunger comes from contracted muscles that are sore with an empty stomach. When the stomach is filled, these muscles relax, and the hunger is alleviated. At this full point, the eater's brain tells them they are full and the eater may begin to feel fatigued, but it's important to power through this mental barrier. Overeating is often represented by nausea and vomiting, but gurgitators need to overcome these sensations as well. The ability to belch on command is important as well, since swallowing air with the food takes up valuable stomach space.

...via Soda Head

Just like broken bones and torn ligaments are common in other sports, competitive eating carries with it the potential for injury. The most serious injury possible would be gastric rupture, where the contents of the stomach perforate the stomach and infect the abdominal wall. This can be extremely painful, and also deadly. Competitive eaters regularly consume over 10,000 calories during a competition, but may elect to purge their foodstuff after the competition. The stomach acid associated with vomiting can lead to wear on the esophagus and on tooth enamel.

But, can competitive eating really be classified as a 'sport'? Wikipedia lists it as an activity. Major League Eating, competitive eating's sanctioning body, calls it a sport. We can't go on what the Olympics declare sports, because they include racewalking --but not baseball.

I think I'll let readers decide if it qualifies as a sport, but here is what International Federation of Competitive Eating president George Shea had to say in a 2003 ESPN interview, "My point is competitive eating is a very fundamental sport. The fundamental sports are running, jumping, pushing and fighting. Eating is even more fundamental: Who can eat the most to survive and in the quickest time when that mattered whether you survived. There are rules. We have a governing body, and we keep track of the records. No question, it's a sport, but the issue is there are people resistant to change. Like it or not, competitive eating is here to stay"

Pictured: Athletes...via Uncoached

Resources

International Federation of Competitive Eating

Wikipedia - Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest; Competitive eating

Popular Science - Why Do Thin Guys Always Seem to Win Eating Contests?

Slate - Death by Cheese and the Dreaded Ruptured Stomach

ESPN - Competitive eating a man-eat-dog world

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#1

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/20/2012 10:14 AM

The big leagues, competitive eating of competitive eaters....

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#2

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/21/2012 12:06 AM

Jubba the Hut, how many Cane Toads did you eat today?

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#3

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/21/2012 8:56 AM

I like how Pepto Bismol is one of the official sponsors of the Nathen's hot dog eating contest

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#4

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/21/2012 9:54 AM

Nathan's hot dogs have got to be one of the worse-tasting hotdogs I've ever eaten, period.

[Unfortunately, one of the best tasting brands IMO, Tobin's First Prize (Albany NY), went belly up a decade ago and was sold to Hormel, who later dropped the brand and left us upstate New Yorkers will little acceptable alternatives.....]

No wonder the Pink Pep is a sponsor! there's just too much smoke and nitrates added to Nathan's meat + that God awful casing (like biting into a celery stick for Pete's sake!).......if you serve chit on a platter to a NYC person they wouldn't know it, as they'll eat anything and espouse how "it was the best ever eats in their lives". LOL

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#5

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/21/2012 10:06 AM

Zweigle's in Rochester, N.Y., makes 'red hots' and 'white hots'. I've always believed the red hots were best, but I'm in the minority. I'm not sure if you can get them in the Hudson Valley.

Last time I was in Newark I had a deep fried hot dog. I thought it would be terrible, and I was so, so wrong.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Competitive Eating: A Glutton's Glory

06/21/2012 11:03 PM

I remember Zweigle's hot dogs with fond memories when I was an Undergrad student at RIT in Rochester! I actually liked both type of dogs and they were fantastic! No, I can't get them down here in the Hudson Valley, which is a huge bummer! I do know you can mail order them though, but it costs an arm & a leg!

Another great upstate NY hot dog is made by Hofmann's, from Syracuse. They carry both the Red Hots and the White German Weiners, with or without casing. I can get them in the Albany-Schenectady area if I hunt for them! YUMMERS!!! I see a road trip northward-bound!!!!

AHHHHHH, HOT DOG HEAVEN!!!!!!!

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