Scarfing Down Some Competitive Eating

Who doesn't like to pig out once and a while!

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

I don't know about you, but I love food. I love to eat and I love to eat a lot of it whenever I get a chance to (which is probably why my doctor is on me about my diet). But as much as I love to eat, I could never take it to the extreme that competitive eaters do. That's right people, even the art of eating has been taking to the sporting ranks.

Competitive eating is by definition a sport in which participants compete against each other to consume large quantities of food in a short time period. The participants, called "gurgitators" (as opposed to regurgitators who would bring the food up), are typically given a time under 15 minutes to consume the most of whatever food the competition calls for. Basically, whoever eats the most wins. Widely popular in the United States and Japan, organized professional eating contests often offer $10,000 or more in prize money.

That's a lot of change for performing a natural bodily need!

The history of competitive eating can be found in country fairs where participants involved were pitted against one another to see who could eat the most pies. Recently, however, the eating contests have swung from pies to hot dogs, at least as far as popularity goes. Since the 1970's, Coney Island has held a traditional hot dog eating contest on July 4th that has become the premier event in the competitive eating circuit.

Nathans Hot Dog Eating contest, as it is called, has gained enough attention to warrant it being televised, thus bring the sport out of the dark and onto the TV screen of anyone with stomach enough to watch grown people gorge themselves in a small period of time. This years Mustard Belt Winner was four time eating champ Joey Chestnut of San Jose. The defending champ ate a blistering 62 dogs in ten minutes to earn the win.

While hot dogs are the most prestigious eating events, other foods can also be found being chomped down at an alarming rate. These include hamburgers, steaks and even ice.

Frankly, this is a sport I couldn't have the stomach for, literally, to participate in or even to watch but if there is anyone interested in watching this, remember to tune into ESPN on July 4th to watch the annual event. And for all you up and coming competitive eaters, all I can say is good luck and, um good chewing.