First, the rules: the hotdogs must be consumed in the presence of an official judge, and must be consumed in any style along with buns, with the contestant's choice of condiments; eating the buns and hotdogs separately is also allowed, and is referred to as "Japanesing". For some reason I can't quite figure out, they must be consumed within the space of 12 minutes. Any hotdog or bun in the contestant's mouth when time is called counts towards the total as long as it is then swallowed. The contest is held on the Fourth of July every year at Coney Island at Nathan's Famous Hotdog Stand since 1916 (you'd figure they'd have better things to do, what with World War I and all, but what the heck...). Judges are always present, to prevent cheating; women are allowed to compete (a winner in the mid-50's was a German woman named Gerta Hasselhoff), but the world records are kept separately.

The current all-time record I believe is held by Hirofumi Nakajima of Japan, who doubles in his native country as a noodle-eating champion. Winners and record-holders include:

  • ? - Peter Washburn, 18.5 hotdogs in 12 minutes
  • 1991 - Francis "Large" Dellarosa, 21.5 hotdogs in 12 minutes
  • 1995 - Edward Krachie, of Maspeth, Queens, 22.25 hotdogs
  • 1996, 1997, 1998 - Hirofumi Nakajima, 24.5 hotdogs
  • 1999 - Steven Keiner, ?
  • 2000 - Kazutoyo Arai, 25.2 hotdogs
The prize is the coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt, lined with jewels; it currently is held on display at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

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