Hot Dog!

"In the annals of sport, seldom has a victory been so decisive, or fellow competitors so crushed and demoralised. At high noon, on a sweltering July 4th, a young Japanese man [carried to his seat atop a large hot-dog float to thunderous applause from more than 1,000 onlookers], weighing in at a mere 112 pounds, out-ate the best, not to mention the biggest, that the rest of the world had to offer, scoffing down an astonishing 50? slimy hot dogs in just 12 minutes.

"Takeru 'The Tsunami' Kobayashi gained 17lbs (7.7 kilos) in the process and narrowly avoided what, in this kind of competition, is referred to politely as a 'Roman incident'."

After the contest, Kobayashi was asked what next. His reply? "Ice cream!"

[Eric "Badlands" Booker, a 410-pound New York subway conductor, took second place. Badlands could barely swallow his 26th dog. "Kobayashi brought a sense of industrial efficiency to the task. Placing a cup of water on each side, he dunked the bun with his left hand and crammed it in his mouth, while with his right hand he dunked the hot-dog and brought it midway up his chest. Then, with both hands, he broke the hot-dog in half and, with one section in each hand, used the sausage as a plunger to force down the bun as he chewed." Kobayashi's earnings over the previous year? $150,000 -- including $25,000 for his victorious consumption of 18 lbs of cows' brains in the "Glutton Bowl".]

[The contest dates back to Nathan Handwerker's founding (in 1916) of a small hot-dog stand on Surf Avenue, near the Coney Island boardwalk. The competition has taken place every year except 1941 (as a protest against the impending war) and 1971 (as a protest against the summer of love).]

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