The Daily ReTORt

My photo
I'm no longer posting here. Visit my new blog -> WWW.THEDAILYRETORT.COM

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Food for Thought as We Grill Away this July 4th Holiday

More than 100,000 spectators crammed a Coney Island intersection this weekend to watch a handful of competitive eaters cram fistfuls of hot dogs and buns into their mouths.

Sponsored by Nathan’s Hot Dogs, this annual glutton-a-thon takes place every July 4th. This year’s winner was Joey Chestnut (see photo) who ate 54 hot dogs and rolls in 10 minutes time, averaging nearly 5.5 dogs every 60 seconds.

This marked the fourth straight win for Chestnut who also holds the world record for hot dog eating with 68 dogs and rolls in 10 minutes. For perspective, that’s more than 20,000 calories in 10 minutes, which is boggling when you consider that, according to ESPN3, multi-gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps consumers 12,000 calories a day when training for The Olympics.

While most people view competitive eating as little more than a bizarre spectacle of curiosity, the actual participants themselves take it very seriously.

Training for these professional gastronomers includes strict liquid diets for up to a week in advance of an event; chewing 20 pieces of Bazooka bubble gum at a time to strengthen jaw muscles as well as drinking several quarts of water in a single sitting to stretch their stomachs.

Believe it or not, there is an actual organization called Major League Eating (M.L.E) that organizes more than 80 eating competitions across the country for its corral of sponsored athletes of eatery.

Perhaps even more unbelievable is that many of these competitors are unionized under a competitive bargaining agreement. In fact, ESPN reported that it was a labor dispute that kept six-time hot dog eating champ, Takeru Kobayashi, from competing in this latest event.

I guess negotiating a union contract for good health care coverage would be important for competitors in need of the routine stomach pumping, choking hazard assistance and emergency surgery to repair ruptured internal organs that all come with the territory of competitive eating.

But something about all this bothers me. Is this type of competition really what the forefathers envisioned our freedom would look like 200 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed? I guess Joey Chestnut and competitive eating represents an aspect of our freedom, but I would suggest it’s freedom at its unpalatable worst.

I fully understand that this annual July 4th competitive eating event is a PR boondoggle that tenuously links Nathan’s hot dog brand with summer grilling and our nation’s freedom – but it leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth, especially when you consider that most of the world will go hungry tonight.

Oh well, for good or ill it appears that gluttony is an officially-sanctioned sport....only in America!


  1. @Chris, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  2. It's sad. My heart was sinking as I was reading it, hoping that you were going to point out that there is something very wrong with this picture. However, I feel equally as guilty, bc I sit here in AC on my laptop, stress free to simply comment on your blog. Oh my heart. God, help us today to change the things we can, love relentlessly, and humbly try to live a life which stewards the resources you have given us...and not just gobble them down.

  3. @Annette, thanks so much for the perspective and insight. Actually, I do take issue with competitive eating as a "sport" and mentioned that at the end of the blog where a majority of people around the globe will not have enough food today, while we’re wasting it in a silly competition. In fact, there was a time when gluttony was considered a deadly sin, because it gave a physical appetite ascendency over the spiritual aspect of our nature. While many consider it little more than a peculiar oddity, I think it’s a symptom of our nationwide spiritual malaise.