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The voracious world of competitive eating

A plate full of hot dogs is seen during the 2022 Nathans Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York City. The contest, which has happened every year since 1972, has returned in front of Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue this year.
A plate full of hot dogs is seen during the 2022 Nathans Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York City. The contest, which has happened every year since 1972, has returned in front of Nathan’s Famous on Surf Avenue this year.

Halloween has jack-o’-lanterns and trick-or-treating.New Year’s has the countdown. And the Fourth Of July? Well, that has fireworks and an American tradition we can call all our own: eating contests.

Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest has been hosted every summer on Coney Island since 1972.Competitors eat as many dogs as they can in 10 minutes, hoping to claim the “Mustard Belt” and a grand prize $10,000.   

According to Nathan’s, nearly 40,000 spectators flocked to Coney Island to watch this year’s contest. Neilson reports its annual television viewership at nearly a million people.Competitive eaters train hard to be able to take part in these kinds of events.

So, what’s the science behind competitive eating? And what’s our fascination with watching these kinds of competitions?

Copyright 2024 WAMU 88.5

Barb Anguiano, Jorgelina Manna-Rea