Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gluttons Go At It Again, Dogging It Out On New York's Coney Island

Joey Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., defending champion of the Nathan's Famous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest, celebrates his victory over former champion Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan, Saturday, July 4, 2009, in New York. Chestnut logged his third consecutive win in Coney Island's annual hot dog eating contest with a world-record 68 franks.

It's the same Joey Chestnut, the U.S. King of Gluttony, who only a few weeks ago, on May 30, came in second in the California-based World Calzone Eating Contest. His arch rival, the cavernous-mouthed Kobayashi, edged him by one-half of a calzone, 5.5 to 5. Each calzone weighs approximately one pound. Thus far, it's been a see-saw battke between the two heavyweight eaters, whose rivalry goes back several years, when Kobayashi took the New York event with a record number of wolfed weenies.

It was not clear whether either or both contestants had gone to the men's room at the end of the contest, to hurl. Hurling during a contest results in immediate disqualification and forfieture of the bond each contestant is required to post prior to the start of the eat-off, for clean-up charges. Mr. Kobayashi looked a little green around the gills as time ran out, and can be seen in the photo above, bending forward as if he were about to puke. But he was able to keep it down, in public.

Neither contestant is very large, and the piles of hot dogs on the contest tables appeared larger than the eaters themselves. Dieticians and medical personnel familiar with eating disorders say the two men are rare and could be genetic throwbacks to ancient times when it frequently was necessary to eat enough food to last for a week or more between meals. Both men are said to be light eaters by family and friends, except when Tobayashi binge eats for several weeks in preparation for an upcoming eating event. Tobayashi, 31, has indicated he plans to retire after this year, and stick to salads and sushi.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens if the African Safari Society (ASS) decides to hold a hippopotamos eating contest," said Bud Bulbous of Brooklyn, apparently a spokesman for no one and hence free to say whatever he feels like.

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