Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hot Dog!

Among our many family traditions, it has lately become an annual Glasner family ritual to suppress our gag reflexes and watch Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs July 4th hot dog eating contest. As the press unabashadly trumpeted, the champion's coveted Mustard Belt was returned stateside yesterday, to the American Joey Chestnut, after spending six years in the mouth of the phenomenal Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi.

Besides the fact that the top two competitors managed to eat 129 hot dogs and buns between the two of them in 12 minutes (66 to Chestnut & 63 to Kobayashi, which is an average of almost 6 hotdogs per person per minute) what surprised me most about this year's competition was that almost none of the competitors were grossly overweight. In previous years, you could tell who was American and who wasn't because all the Americans looked like they routinely stuffed too many hot dogs down their gullets, whereas everyone else looked (almost) undernourished.

This year the Americans followed the lead of their mostly Japanese counterparts, both in terms of slimming down and in terms of employing better eating techniques. Chestnut weighed in at around 215 pounds whereas Kobayashi weighed in at around 160. (The difference is partially attributable to the fact that Chestnut is significantly taller.) Most of the other Americans also looked skinnier than usual. Similar to Kobayashi, Chestnut jumped around spasmodically to get the food into his stomach (Kobayashi uses his patented Kobayashi wiggle to achieve the same result.)

As someone who weighs in around 125 and is usually more than full after eating a lowly 2 hot dogs (with the works of course), I have no aspiration to join the ranks of professional hot dog eaters. And after watching yesterday's competition I'm pretty sure I'll lay off hot dogs for a while, at least until they start to look appealing again. Not that it's necessarily the most important issue facing our country these days, or even close to it, but on America's Independence Day this year I was happy to see that our stripes aren't as broad as they once were, thus making our stars just a little brighter.