hot dog update
Last Wednesday, I noted that former pro football star William "The Refrigerator" Perry was to challenge reigning champion Takeru Kobayashi for victory in Coney Island's annual July 4 hot dog eating contest.
Here's a once again reigned supreme of the 150-pound Kobayashi that examines some possible secrets behind the gastronomic gladiator's success.
There's a new world order in the dog-eat-hot-dog world of competitive eating. For five of the last six years, when the smoke from the grill cleared at the landmark Nathan's wiener stand, the winner was ... a diminutive Japanese man.
Led by two-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, a mere 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds with a 30-inch waist, Japanese eaters are dominating the holiday contest. The Japanese media covers Kobayashi like he was Elvis and Coney Island was Graceland; the Fourth of July now looms as a big day in both Nagano and New York.
Kobayashi's 100 mph style of eating — snapping the dogs in half, a move dubbed "The Solomon Method" — earned him the nickname "Tsunami." He's yet to swallow a finger, although it certainly seems possible.
Adding insult to indigestion, Kobayashi is an overwhelming favorite to keep the mustard-yellow belt symbolic of gastronomic supremacy in the land of the rising bun. No one has come close to the 50 1/2 franks that he inhaled in 12 minutes last year.
...No one knows for sure, but there are theories.
_ The "Jack Sprat" theory: Although it seems contradictory, the scrawny Kobayashi's physique serves him better than the 6-foot-4, 400-pound frame of U.S. hopeful Eric "Badlands" Booker.
"My guess is when you're 130 pounds, you have more room for the stomach to expand and accommodate the hot dogs in a single sitting," said Samantha Heller, senior nutritionist at the New York University Medical Center.
..._ The "Zen and Now" theory: While the American eaters are content to hang around Coney Island in the hours before the eat-off, Kobayashi returns to his hotel room and meditates.
..._ Finally, there's "The Fridge" theory: Who knows, but pass the franks.
"I don't know nothing about it," said William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the ex-Chicago Bears star who will join this year's fray. "I'm just going in to have fun."
Perry, who is currently the size of three Kobayashis, is a long shot to salve the pride of the American chowhounds. Booker, a New York subway conductor who downed 30 dogs earlier this year, is the best hope.
The Japanese dominance dates to 1997, when Hirofumi Nakajima defeated Ed Krachie in the annual eat-off. He duplicated the effort next year.