4th of July Tradition


According to Wikipedia,

Traditionally, eating contests, often involving pies, were events at county fairs. The recent surge in the popularity of competitive eating is due in large part to the development of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual holiday tradition that has been held on July 4 virtually every year at Coney Island.

This morning, I happily let my son Drew participate in an ice cream eating contest.  Fortunately, the participants were given only one scoop of ice cream which they had to eat without utensils or their hands.  The first one to finish was the winner. The contest was for speed, not quantity.  Drew came in first place.  Am I proud?  Maybe that’s not the correct word, but that smile on his face after he won, was priceless.


I have a hard time watching competitive eating contests.  There are so many people starving all around us and with the obesity problems our nation is facing, I am not sure if celebrating the birthday of our nation with eating contests is the right  thing to do.  There is actually a committee, The IOFCE (The International Federation of Competitive Eating,) which hosts close to 50 eating events throughout the year. I have read that The Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest is one of ESPN’s most watched events.  ESPN – stands for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.”  I am not sure when eating became a sport but I have to admit it is entertaining.

Last year, Nuvo Magazine wrote,

Twenty-nine-year-old champion-eater Chestnut, for example, has at various venues consumed 9.5 pounds of deep-fried asparagus, 47 grilled cheese sandwiches, 102 tamales, 5.9 pounds of funnel cakes, and, this past summer, 69 Nathan’s hot dogs—each in 10 minutes and all world records”

So, perhaps it is a sport.  I could never do it.  Like any other athlete, these competitive eaters have to train, and build up stamina to get to that level of competition.

I am guilty of watching.  My kids love to see it.  This year, they were counting along as Joey Chestnut ate 61 hotdogs in ten minutes – 8 short of his record. It truly makes me gag as I watch them shove those hotdogs into their mouth and actually hold it shut so it doesn’t come back out!  I am also guilty of watching Man v Food.  A show I actually like!  In this show, the host, Adam Richman traveled throughout America looking for “big food” offerings. He then took their challenges and tried to win by eating enormous amounts of food in one sitting.

As I am writing this, I am asking my kids how a positive spin could be put on this gluttonous event.  DJ suggested that perhaps Nathans could make it a paid event and that the money made from it, could be donated to help feed the hungry.  With nearly 40,000 people gathered to watch the event in person, that’s not a bad idea… Maybe ESPN can donate a percentage of their advertising revenue.  Both great ideas, and perhaps this is already being done, in that case I am all for it, if not, it is something to think about!


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