Today, however, we're profiling an event that, year on year, has grown to greater prominence: the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, co-sponsored by Major League Eating and Nathan's Famous Frankfurters. Though internationally famous, the event is often felt to be a uniquely American cultural moment. The jewel in the crown of competitive eating, interest in the contest has grown exponentially since last year saw long time champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi dethroned by American upstart Joey Chestnut, who also set a new world record of 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Accordingly, this year's competition has received an inordinate amount of attention in the press. Here's the ultimate list of Nathan's Hot Dog Contest links:
- Yardbarker gives you the basics: "All You Need To Know About the 2008 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest"
- Time provides "A Brief History of Competitive Eating," and looks back to the first Nathan's contest in 1916.
- The Wall Street Journal goes "Inside the Belly of Competitive Eating", which includes an interview with Marc Levine, author of an article in the Journal of Roentgenology: "Competitive Speed Eating: Truth and Consequences"
- For Slate, Jason Fagone examines "The past and future of competitive eating injuries"
- The Brooklyn Angle, meanwhile, is annoyed that Kobayashi has received a "sponsor's exemption" to the event.
- Food blog Beef Aficionado profiles the Nathan's Famous hot dog itself.
- Serious Eats offers up a bar graph of Nathan's eating history.
- The Village Voice profiles competitive eaters Eater X and Crazy Legs.
- Gothamist provides pictures of the weigh-in, yesterday.
- And finally, for now: Master of ceremonies and competitive eating personality George Shea is an integral part of the event, known for his rhetorical flights of fancy. Foreign Policy has an interview with him here (registration required). A sample: "The Nathan’s hot dog-eating contest and the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) are kind of like a new United Nations, bringing nations together in peace."
UPDATE: Well, Chestnut retained the crown - though it was close. Kobayashi and Chestnut were tied after the first round - and so began the historic sudden death 5 dog eat off...