The July 4th weekend is a time to get out the grill and indulge in a few hot dogs - or a lot of them if you are thinking of participating in the annual 'Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest' - the world's premier food eating contest.
The contest, which has been a New York tradition since 1916, became an international event in 2001, thanks to Japanese rookie contestant, Takeri Koyabashi. The first- timer shook up the competition by devouring 50 hot dogs in the allotted 12-minutes, twice as many as that eaten by previous year's winner.
The following year, he topped his own record by eating fifty and one-half. Suddenly, the event became famous, with the number of live spectators doubling. Even television stations joined the frenzy, with ESPN signing an exclusive deal to broadcast the show. Koyabashi continued his winning streak, out-eating every contestant for six years.
However, just as he was getting used his star status, Joey Chestnut, a rookie from California swooped in and toppled his throne, by gobbling down 66 hot dogs in 12-minutes and setting a new world record.
In 2008, the competition got so fierce that the duo had to go into 'overtime' after devouring 59 hot dogs in the new 10-minute time frame. To break the tie, they were each given five additional hot dogs to eat as fast as they could. In front of a live audience of 40,000 and an estimated television audience of over 1 million, the California boy outdid his opponent once again, beating him by seven seconds!
This year's match-off should be even more exciting, so don't forget to tune into your ESPN channel at 9.00 or 10.00 am on July 4th - But we have a feeling you will not be wanting hot dogs anytime soon after that! Have a great holiday!
sources: Nathansfamous.com, Forbes.com