Way back in July, we wrote a lighthearted post about the Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest. A commenter, one Jeremy, responded with “I have a less than favorable opinion of the “sport” of competative eating. My post The 4th of July Battle spells it out very well, but I see no reason to make a hero out of these people. IMHO.” Curious, we checked out his blog, where he had written a lengthy post about the immorality of holding competitive eating events in a world plagued with hunger. We thought it was an interesting, if flawed (it’s not like the hot dogs being eaten at the Nathan’s event were going to be given to the hungry if the event were not held and anyways, Nathan’s does give a lot of food to local food banks), perspective. It was also the first time that we’d realized that people didn’t care for competitive eating events for any reason other than, as our mother put it, “they’re gross.”
We were reminded of all this yesterday when we read an article in the Washington Post about a wave of cancellations of eating contests. In the past few months, both the University of Iowa’s annual corn-eating contest and the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan, England have been canceled. The reason given for both cancellations is, interestingly enough, the inverse of Jeremy’s argument. The Iowa and Wigan events were canceled because of concerns about glorifying obesity. This seems just plain dumb. The vast majority of competitive eaters are quite slender. Takeru Kobayashi, the premier competitive eater, has less than 10% body fat. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas weighs 98 pounds. Furthermore, watching a competitive eating event isn’t too likely to make anyone want to go out and gorge themselves. The events feature quite a bit of regurgitation and other disgusting behaviors that aren’t too likely to inspire copycat behavior.
Our thought is that eating competitions are fun and funny in small doses. The Nathan’s Fourth of July contest is a national tradition and the other competitions are an interesting subculture. At the end of the day, it’s pretty much wholesome fun and what’s wrong with that? Nothing.
[Photo: Nathan’s Famous]