There are three ways I know of to approach hot dog eating contests.

1) Standard tactic- Skip a meal or two and just eat as many of them as you can. Try to stay away from water, as it'll fill you up faster, but you'll probably need some close to the end anyway. Most hot dogs have a notoriously high sodium content, and plus the water will help you swallow when you're really full.

2) Dunk tactic- I never really understood this one, but I've seen it used before. They dunk the hot dog in water before eating it. I'm guessing the water will lubricate the hot dog and help it to go down. But I've always thought the extra water would, as stated above, fill you up faster.

3) Japanese tactics- This way was first popularized by the Japanese, who won a few contests this way despite being smaller than their American competitors. They would separate the meat part of the hot dog from the bun. Then they would eat the meat and then smash the bun into a tiny wad and eat that separately. This technique seems smart because it would eliminate most of the air that is trapped in the bread. Considering that a hot dog bun can be smashed into something quite small, it seems like this technique would free up a lot of volume in the stomach.

Step 1: lose weight if you're obese

A former American speed-eater champion Ed "The Animal" Krachie proposed a "belt of fat theory" which claims that the belt of fat that obese people (including himself - 462 pounds) has prevents the stomach from greatly expanding during a speed-eating contest. In fact, many expert Japanese speed-eaters are very skinny.

Step 2: practice an eating method

The current world record of eating hot dogs is held by Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, who ate 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the annual international Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest held in Coney Island, doubling the previous year's record. His method was dubbed "double-Japanesing," which adds to the method known as "Japanesing" in the States, and "Tokyo-style" in Japan. The contestants practicing the eating method of Japanesing would separate the bun from the hot dog, dip the bun in a bucket of water, and consume the two separately. What Kobayashi did instead was to focus on a pair of hot dogs at a time by eating two buns simultaneously, followed by consuming two meats simultaneously.

The winner of this annual event wins a trophy, a year's worth of Nathan's hot dogs, and the coveted mustard yellow international belt.


Year 2001 record held by Takeru "tsunami" Kobayashi - 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Year 2000 record held by Kazutoyo "the rabbit" Arai - 25 & 1/8 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Year 1999 record held by Charles "hungry" Hardy - 22 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Ed "The Animal" Krachie

Nathan's famous homepage
Eating, especially eating quickly, can be an art. A few weeks ago, Fox aired the "Glutton Bowl" -- an official championship sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. I didn't think there actually was such an organization until I saw this show and went to their website at The Japanese man who holds the world record for hot dog consumption, Takeru Kobayashi, won the entire Glutton Bowl, defeating a slew of other competitors.

Of course, the Glutton Bowl's various contests did not involve just hot dogs. The "heats" of the event included hamburgers, hot dogs, sushi, Rocky Mountain oysters, and everyone's favorite, mayonnaise. The winner of that heat consumed 8 pounds of straight mayonnaise. Kobayashi won the title of world's greatest eater by consuming more cow brains than any of the other professional eaters in the finals.

How is it that a 130-pound Japanese man was able to eat so much more than people three times his size? The answer is quite simple: it was probably due to his preparation. Of course, his unique dunking and separating technique has a part to play, but Kobayashi is consistently able to consume any food faster than his opponents. Though most people scoff at the idea of competitive eating as a serious sport, some people devote their lives to it. Successful competitive eaters seem to make a decent living this way. In order to be able to win at these events, you have to be smart. You must analyze exactly what it takes to allow your body to consume the most food within a certain time limit.

Forget hunger. No matter how hungry you are, your hunger will be satisfied by eating a lot. Once that happens, your body is satisfied and it will refuse any more food. It's good to go into a hot dog eating contest on an empty stomach, but don't expect an abnormal appetite to carry you through a competition. In addition to this, fasting for an extended period of time will shrink your stomach, which is completely counterproductive for eating contests.

Bigger people eat more, so the majority of those competitive eaters tend to be hefty folks. The key there is not that they digest more quickly, or anything like that. They simply have more stomach capacity than others because of their large size. As people like Takeru Kobayashi prove, however, even smaller people can completely dominate eating competitions with the proper preparation.

Evening the score with bigger folks means you'll have to increase your stomach's capacity. That doesn't mean you should go on a steady diet of 3 packages of hot dogs a day for six months before the Nathan's competition. No sir, in order to stretch your stomach you need a different kind of strict diet. You need to drink water, and eat foods like pineapple and celery until you can't bear to look at the stuff anymore. Then eat some more. These foods have very little substance but will do wonders for your stomach. The more you shovel in, the greater volume your stomach will be used to. This will ensure that when the time comes, your stomach will be up to the task. Good old Tubby O'Blubber will look like a fat fool when he's full and you look like a bottomless pit next to him.

If you've ever seen Kobayashi in action, it's hard to imagine where he puts it all. Though his stomach must be very large, I imagine he also has some sort of genetic condition or unknown technique to keep it all down. He's the best at consuming every food, so it's obviously not just his unique consumption technique that is responsible for his success. It's truly a difficult task to swallow that much food and keep it from coming back up. The majority of successful competitive eaters swallow copious amounts of water along with their dishes. Though this does take up room in your stomach, it will keep your throat and esophagus good and slippery. No matter what you do, you will feel sick if you enter a hot dog eating contest. If you do throw up, you will likely be disqualified. In order to avoid this, hydration is paramount. There's nothing worse than a dry esophagus with a bunch of synthetic meat under it.

Concentration is key. Even if the food being contested is your favorite food in the entire world, it's not going to taste very good as you take in more and more of it. Don't taste your food; just take a few bites to chew and then swallow. Save the slow, savory eating for post-competition celebration. If you slow down, your body will begin to settle and you won't want to eat anymore. If you don't think about it and just swallow, everything will be much, much easier.

There are no secrets to being able to eat quickly. It's just a matter of how well you prepare, and how sick you are willing to feel. While the average person can't consume 50 hot dogs, they can sure as hell impress friends and foes alike with some major league consumption. Happy eating!

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