If there’s one thing that Coney Island is known for, that would be hotdogs! And what better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a hotdog eating competition – the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
This long time tradition is said to have originated on July 4, 1916 wherein four immigrants were arguing about patriotism. They’ve decided to put up an instant hot dog eating competition, and whoever wins the contest is the most patriotic. That was almost 95 years ago. It is no longer a competition between four people for it became an annual event along with the celebration of America’s Independence Day. This contest has become an annual tradition that has been graced by many hot dog lovers, from locals to foreign visitors.
Each year, people have come to participate in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest but not all are qualified to join. The organizers have set the bar high by creating standards in which participants are being selected from different places and towns. Participants must be of legal age or must be 18 and above for them to qualify. A qualifying contest is held every season to filter winners who will advance to the final competition, and from there, 20 hungry contestants are chosen. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place every 4th of July, in time for the Freedom Day celebration. It is held every year at Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Coney Island. This contest gains a lot of spectators, from locals, visiting foodies, and is covered by the media each year. The 20 participants pile up behind a long platform with Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and drinks. They are only given 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they can. Drinking in between is tolerated. At the end of the 10 minute count, hot dogs in the mouth should be swallowed before it counts in.
For every competition, prizes are always given. In this case, the most priced possession is the Nathan’s Famous Mustard Belt which is passed on from winner to winner throughout the years. There’s no definite value for the winner’s belt, but nothing can beat the pride of a champion, most especially if food is involved. Other prices include a trophy and cases of Nathan’s hot dogs. There are times that cash prizes are given to the winners, and in some cases, the event’s sponsors award the winners with special non-monetary gifts and prizes.
Generally, you’ll expect all winners to come from America, but not all winners were Americans. Takeru Kobayashi, a Japanese who is no newbie to competitive eating, bagged the prize. Aside from putting his name in the Guinness Record for eating hot dogs, he also holds records for eating hamburgers, pasta, and meatballs. He held the championship post for Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for 6 straight years. After his 6-year run, an American by the name of Joey Chestnut defeated the Japanese record holder, earning his own world record for eating hot dogs at a qualifier round with 59.5 hot dogs with buns. From then on, Chestnut has been unbeaten in this competition. But will the King be dethroned on this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest? Let’s find out soon.
This year, as the Finale of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place in Coney Island, 20 hungry contestants will try to eat their way to become the Hot Dog King/Queen of the year. Feast your eyes as it will rain not cats, but hot dogs on the 4th of July. What a way to enjoy your Freedom Day!