Today at Nathan's Coney Island, American Joey Chesnut will attempt to become the first person on Earth to eat over 70 hot dogs in less than ten minutes. On this same day over two centuries ago, the founding fathers assembled in Philadelphia with no air-conditioning, prepared to sign a document that would change the world. Collectively they felt a strange sensation deep in the pit of their stomachs. It wasn't anxiety or fear, it was hunger. A hunger for independence. Once achieved, It turned out that independence was merely a snack that wouldn't satisfy for long. Like a basket of deep fried pickles before two dozen buffalo wings, our country's appetite became even more ravenous after achieving independence. From the mountains to the praries we consumed everything in our path, ultimately fulfilling our Manifest Destiny. The United States of America stretched from sea to shining sea. There was nowhere else to go. So we turned inward and began expanding our waistlines instead of our borders.* Where there was once "Manifest Destiny" there was now, "Double Manifest Destiny w/Cheese".
We once aimed to be a shining city on the hill, with a thousand points of light yet somehow got a shining Sam's Club on the corner selling a thousand packets of mayonnaise. Sure America may have lost a step on the world when it comes to health care and education, but when it comes to eating, our dominance is growing larger and larger. I don't believe I am being nationalistic to state that no country can jam their gob holes full of Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and tiny American flags like the good old U,S, and Mother F-n A.
This will be lived out in real time as Joey Chesnut makes his record breaking attempt on Democracy's holiest day. Similar to when pilot Chuck Yeagar became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, nobody is sure what kind of eruption exceeding the 70 hot dog mark will bring. A sonic boom? or worse...Where does that old demon live?
Nobody knows what damage could be wrought, but that isn't Joey Chesnutt's problem. He's got a hundred problems and the hot dogs are only 70. Considering he is ranked #1 in eating, I'll assume the bitch ain't one either. That leaves 29 unaccounted problems, though reasonable minds could speculate on a few problems after ingesting so much pig, but I digress..
Why isn't competitive eating more popular than the NHL or the Bachlorette? If you really think about it, there are entire networks with less compelling programing than a competitive eating channel would run. "Monday Night Weapons of Mass Digestion" would even give the NFL a run for its money. Oh, don't bullshit me, you know you would flip over to check it out. Who wouldn't? We all eat. And just think how many possible champions are out there that never even considered the sport? Youth leagues would flourish! How do you know you can't eat the most glazed donuts in eight minutes? You have never tried. (49 glazed by Eric Booker, 2002)
It's amazing how many different categories/divisions there are in the MLE (Major League Eating). Some look fun: like eating 49 crab cakes, some look like torture: eating 7 sticks of butter and some look crazy. 17.7 pounds of Cow Brains by the legendary Kobayashi.
to see the complete list of reigning MLE event leaders click here. Oh, you have to see this.
Power Eating as an Olympic Sport? At first blush this seems entirely plausible. It's something the whole world has in common and if wrestling can be eliminated, I'll just assume anything goes when it comes to event scheduling. However, upon further reflection it might be harder to implement than I first thought.
I would imagine in some countries, posting "tryouts for the eating team today", could spark riots eventually destabilizing whole sections of the sub Saharan region. This obviously, would make it hard to find coaches. And sponsors would be hesitant to invest the money necessary to build a successful Olympic eating program knowing they were just one military coup away from having to rebuild from the ground up.
I'd love to keep writing about all this stuff, but it's the 4th of July and my grill is blazing. I've found that a bar- b -qued American Flag is the tastiest way to honor America. Just make sure it doesn't catch on fire or hit the ground before you serve it. I prefer sauce from Montgomery Inn. Mmmmmmmmnnnnn good.
Colin Gawel plays in Watershed and writes for Pencilstorm. For years he has been threatening to write about competitive eating. This is his half-ass attempt jammed in between parenting, running a coffee shop and not letting his wife know he is spending his time dicking around with stupid stories like this.
*and don't even get me started on the toothless immigration bill winding its way through congress. Unless we get tougher border control, all those delicious burritos and chimichangas will keep flooding illegally into our country making it virtually impossible for law abiding American citizens to resist and... taking mouths away from homegrown USA dishes like hamburgers and hot dogs. Those burritos aren't even paying taxes yet they still get eaten. I'm so hungry.