Deep Throat
July 10, 2010 6:51 AM   Subscribe

The depravity of Major League Eating. "Every Fourth of July, Nathan's Famous, the frankfurter chain, hosts a hot-dog eating contest in Coney Island, N.Y. Tragically, this year's contest was marred. Six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi was hauled away by police after storming the stage. He had been barred from the contest for refusing to sign a contract with Major League Eating. Contracts? Major League Eating? Is this some kind of joke? Nope. It's worse. It's a joke that has turned serious."
posted by Fizz (52 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just wanted to share that I had 2 hot dogs this July 4th. The police were not involved.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:56 AM on July 10, 2010 [19 favorites]


Drokk!
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm generally in favor of letting people of sound mind and otherwise in control of their faculties do whatever they want to themselves, as long as it doesn't hurt other people, but "competitive eating" does seem like it has gone too far.
posted by yhbc at 7:08 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Related: "gladiatorial" competitive eating contest in Florida turns to tragedy.

Hamburger Hot Dogs
posted by MuffinMan at 7:09 AM on July 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hell in a handcart, that's where we're heading.

Not kidding.
posted by sneebler at 7:18 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kobayashi is young and seemingly good health right now. I wonder though what his gastrointestinal system will look like in a few years when he's older. How much damage is he doing to his body?
posted by Fizz at 7:18 AM on July 10, 2010


Only in America, land of Big Agriculture and HFCS.

It's the tiny birdlike people who clean up at these events. I remember reading about a petite housewife in her 50s who competed, and who kept herself in trim each day by lunching on a salad made from several heads of lettuce. Evolution would not have been kind to such metabolisms in the past, but now, fitness is fitness, I suppose.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:22 AM on July 10, 2010


"I wonder though what his gastrointestinal system will look like in a few years when he's older."

Probably something like this. (warning... SFW but may initially confuse)
posted by vectr at 7:22 AM on July 10, 2010


All sports lead to accelerated wear and tear on the body, is there any evidence that competitive eating is somehow exceptional in that regard? Pros tend to not even be fat.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:25 AM on July 10, 2010


I personally find this "sport" disgusting and wasteful. Celebrating how much you can stuff into your gullet?

I'd weep for America, but the last 10 years have burnt out my ducts.
posted by Aquaman at 7:33 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wonder if this "sport" will ever hold a world cup in Africa?
posted by vectr at 7:37 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wonder if this "sport" will ever hold a world cup in Africa?

Probably not, because of how different the diet for Africans is versus those in North America. It would probably just make people sick over there.
posted by Fizz at 7:41 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I blame Sushi Cat. Our children get brainwashed by these video games to the point where the only thing they can think about is the elusive "Full Belly Achieved!" - is it any surprise that our society has these problems?

On a more serious note, there's a related article from last year which is quite interesting. A few quotes:
'His stomach did not have muscle contractions called peristalsis, which move the food down the digestive tract.'

'the hot dogs sat in his stomach and "protruded enough to create the distinct impression of a developing intrauterine pregnancy," the doctors wrote.'

'the doctors warned of possible "morbid obesity, profound gastroparesis, intractable nausea and vomiting, and even the need for a gastrectomy'
But apparently:
"It was worth that discomfort to get what I wanted. It was fun -- not the eating so much, but the trips, getting to see all kinds of places and different people. I'm a house painter in real life. How else could I ever get the opportunity like that?"
I don't know, mate, but I can't help thinking there must be some way that doesn't involve your digestive system.
posted by d11 at 7:42 AM on July 10, 2010


Drokk!

Always amused when the satirical stories I read as a kid in a comic became true...

I recently heard this story... yeah, drug scandals in competitive eating WTF
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:52 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is bullshit exclusivity probably designed to keep Joey Chestnut the American to keep winning the contest. Racism, yep.
posted by CrazyJoel at 7:53 AM on July 10, 2010


Dude doesn't get contracts. Like, he doesn't get them.

Ok, I spent way too much time reading up on this guy last week when I should have been working. I even read his blog (I bought an A/C! A guy gave me directions!).

Anyway, according to Japanese Wikipedia, Kobayashi left Japan in the early 2000s due to a contract dispute with TBS TV. See the "trouble" section under "Kobayashi Takeru (Takeru = 尊 ).

The "Let me eat" image was so powerful! So gripping! He could seriously make some money if he put his mind to it, say, as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, or on one of those reality shows that throws strangers into a house to live together. Or even a Food Network show that follows the MLE on its circuit. Yes, there are possibilities!

But since learning about his contract-aversion, I've changed my mind. Kobayashi's got no future. He seems like a bull-headed nut, frankly.
posted by vincele at 7:57 AM on July 10, 2010


Clarification-- TBS TV is a massive Japanese TV corporation, not what Americans know as TBS. The point is Kobayashi refused to sign a contract in Japan and that's why he launched a career in the US in the first place. Apparently.
posted by vincele at 8:04 AM on July 10, 2010


I am unsure why this thread does not contain a direct link to Major League Eating.

There are a lot of touching stories of personal triumph in the rankings section.
posted by mazola at 8:08 AM on July 10, 2010


Several years ago, I saw a large man in a red velvet jacket (like a smoking jacket) at a TGI Fridays who turned out to be Ed "Cookie" Jarvis. The jacket was embroidered with all of his titles and competitive eating victories.

If you see me at a MeFi meetup, I'll be wearing my own jacket inspired by his. Mine is embroidered with comments that got the most favorites.
posted by dr_dank at 8:12 AM on July 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Competitive eating is one of those decadent things that makes me think of America as a modern day Roman empire in decline. Hot dogs and circuses, it's all fun and games until the Visigoths and Ostrogoths show up.
posted by MikeMc at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Wonder if this "sport" will ever hold a world cup in Africa?"

no, because you can't eat and blow that damned horn at the same time.....
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has competitive eating become a blood sport? The answer is YES according to the 5th item in a list of 7 Insane Food Competitions.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 8:59 AM on July 10, 2010


The important thing to remember is that The Kobayashi Maru is not a test of skill, it is a test of character.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on July 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


Dammit Whelk. I was going to make some kind of comment about how he was trying to reprogram the contest so he could win, but you stole my thunder.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 AM on July 10, 2010


The important thing to remember is that The Kobayashi Maru is not a test of skill, it is a test of character.

Dammit Whelk. I was going to make some kind of comment about how he was trying to reprogram the contest so he could win, but you stole my thunder.

For Whelk and hippybear: Hot Dog, it's the Kobayashi Maru!
posted by Fizz at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2010


I saw Colbert's bit about this the other night. Most shocking thing? That there are multiple competitive eating leagues.

This is why terrorists attack us, people. A contest to see which person can gorge themselves on the most food in a period of time, while people around the world, hell, people in our own country starve. This is the decadence of Nero's Rome.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:50 AM on July 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


A lot of these contests take place in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and mainland China. If you look at Kobayashi's records, and that's all I've looked at, that's where he's done a lot of his eating. So rather than a sign of the end of American civilization, competitive eating has got to be a sign of some other process. It's been big in Asia for at least a decade and operates independently of the US mania for hot dog eating. America really is just a small piece of a bigger puzzle. People in the Anglo-American world don't know about these contests in Asia because they aren't advertised here. The events in Asia are big international events within Asia, for what it's worth.
posted by vincele at 10:09 AM on July 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is nowhere near the decadence of Nero's Rome. Not even close.

Now if it was python vs Kobayashi - Eat or Be Eaten, then it would be close.
posted by warbaby at 10:11 AM on July 10, 2010


Professional eating contests say just about everything in regards to American culture.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 10:23 AM on July 10, 2010


Viewing an activity common in areas outside the US as uniquely American says everything in regards to American culture.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:35 AM on July 10, 2010 [27 favorites]


I'm thinking of turning pro! lol
posted by DavidOlsen at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2010


there are multiple competitive eating leagues.

This is why terrorists attack us, people.


I'm pretty sure it's not.
posted by tzikeh at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some of you folks need to read up on ancient Rome.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:36 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't somebody eventually going to die doing this?
posted by Wordwoman at 11:41 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


a red velvet jacket

Had no idea jackets came in that flavor.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:42 AM on July 10, 2010


How to win an eating contest
posted by EmGeeJay at 12:06 PM on July 10, 2010


I first read about the International Federation of Competitive Eating in an Onion article two years ago: Once-Great Competitive Eater Reduced To Hustling At 10-Cent Wing Nights, a tragic tale that follows one Chris Rierden's decline from ESPN2 events to illegal backroom eating contests and finally down to dingy sports bars' promotions.
How could such a talented gurgitator have fallen so far from the glory of rapidly forcing 13 pounds of calf brains down his throat on national television? [...] "I took a dive, plain and simple," Rierden says. "A heavily invested party who shall remain nameless paid me $30,000 to throw up while eating a five-gallon tub of mayonnaise in a competition where I was the clear favorite. I had just come off a strong showing in matzo balls and I thought I was invincible. The [International] Federation [of Competitive Eating] caught wind of it, and I was banned for life."
Why do people keep mistaking that publication for just a humor magazine?
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:14 PM on July 10, 2010


For Whelk and hippybear: Hot Dog, it's the Kobayashi Maru!

"AccessDeniedRequest has expiredCDBC454904BCFC4F2010-07-10T16:50:26Z/iP2+W44bnOYj1Kf4qS4Q9IoA3+uFyOpgvRfYbtvEmDzR5jO0WuoKLDZhKkx41p42010-07-10T21:43:22Z"

*pout*
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on July 10, 2010


Speaking of Joey Chestnut (warning: video in 2nd link plays automatically with sound), did anyone else check out the current MLE #1 ranked competitor's gastronomic resume? Here are just some of the illustrious highlights:

Pulled Pork: 9 Pounds, 6 Ounces in 10 minutes

Pulled Pork Sandwiches: 45 pulled pork sandwiches in 10 minutes

Chicken Wings: 7.5 lbs Buffalo Wings in 12 minutes

With all do respect to Kobayashi, those are some pretty impressive numbers.
posted by Cody's Keeper at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2010


I once wrote of Kobayashi after an eating contest in Hong Kong:

"I have difficulty being enthusiastic for a display of gormandizing when some folks in this city go hungry. If ever there were a wasted talent, this would be it, but if Kobayashi were to use his skill to draw attention to hunger relief, then it'd have merit."

Gluttony displays are abhorrent.
posted by bwg at 5:48 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But since learning about his contract-aversion, I've changed my mind. Kobayashi's got no future. He seems like a bull-headed nut, frankly.

I don't know, this contract would apparently have forbidden him from competing in any competitive eating event not owned by the Major League Eating organisation, and it sounds like he prefers to retain his right to compete all over the world. I think it's pretty reasonable for him not to want to sign it, not just to protect himself but also to help stop this one body taking over the entire "sport". Whatever I may think about competitive eating I have to respect that.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:24 PM on July 10, 2010


All sports are eventually ruined by organizing. $20 million to throw balls???

Jung was right: If you must have an organization, for god's sake keep it disorganized.
posted by Twang at 6:40 PM on July 10, 2010


Only in America, land of Big Agriculture and HFCS.

The worst eating habits I've seen were actually in Scotland oddly enough. So many people think of Americans as so uniquely deep-fried, but I wonder if that's just a bit of self-selecting bias. Oh, believe me, we have some bellies on us, but we are far from unique. But I suppose when you have an axe, everything looks like an issue. . .
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:12 PM on July 10, 2010


I've seen some big fat bastards in Scotland, but nothing like the big fat bastards in America. Sorry, guys, but you're in a class of your own, even when compared with people for whom deep frying a block of lard is haute cusine.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on July 11, 2010


Of course, it could just be that heart disease gets them before they get too big.
posted by Artw at 9:00 AM on July 11, 2010


Let's just hope no one wants to start a league centered around excreting the results of eating contests...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:55 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remember, folks - it's far more important for one guy to eat 68 hot dogs in one sitting, only to vomit them back up afterwards, than for 68 other folks to actually have a meal during a recession that sees more and more people going hungry. And to do so with the proper legal backing and marketing sponsorship - I mean, who would pay attention to that kind of gluttony if a bunch of folks couldn't make money on it, right?

The very crux of what appalls me when it comes to contests focusing on overconsumption, whether it be food, water, alcohol, energy, or whatnot - knowing full well that people who may depend or need the very resources wasted for the contest watch in futile anger as such resources are wasted purely to amuse an audience and satisfy the rich.
posted by FormlessOne at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2010


Kobayashi updated his blog today!

He said he didn't slept in the week leading up to the contest and he's been super stressed out.

But he had an interesting time in prison and got caught up on his sleep there. Since his release from jail, he's been busy meeting with his lawyer and with other stuff. There's more he wants to say but that's all for right now. He's doing really well, he says, and thanks everyone for their support. Basically, he said nothing of interest.

You can read it for yourself if you read Japanese and you can leave comments in any language.

I still think he doesn't understand that just about anything in the entertainment industry in the US or Japan will require him to sign a contract-- precisely why he's had problems in the past. But hey, the guy's got a gift for eating pounds and pounds of cow brains really fast. I hope the charges don't mess up his "special talents" visa. And I hope he lands on his feet.
posted by vincele at 6:33 PM on July 11, 2010


Remember, folks - it's far more important for one guy to eat 68 hot dogs in one sitting, only to vomit them back up afterwards, than for 68 other folks to actually have a meal during a recession that sees more and more people going hungry. And to do so with the proper legal backing and marketing sponsorship - I mean, who would pay attention to that kind of gluttony if a bunch of folks couldn't make money on it, right?

You know, I can understand where this thought comes from, but it just doesn't follow. All sports use mass amounts of resources that could be used elsewhere. In fact, every movie could be considered a theft from the hungry as can you imagine the food that the revenues from Avatar could haul in? Why have a state dinner at the White House at all when there are millions in the US starving? In fact, the price of 68 hot dogs seems pretty paltry as far as most of the other excesses that we engage and enjoy watching. It might be a visible excess, but it's not one that you should be reasonable outraged the most by. It's a hot dog eating contest. It's suppose to be fun to be in and watch. It might not be your cup of tea, but it's hardly the indictment of Western Culture that everyone is making it out to be. Hell, I'm probably wasting far more a month on my cable internet a month than what was used to buy 68 hot dogs.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:17 PM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


It staggers me that these contests don't make some sort of donation to hunger charities, or at least try to raise awareness.

And seconding the truly epic proportions of fat Americans. I'm quite fat and have travelled all over, but have never seen so many truly enormous bastards as I did up and down the East Coast.

There were also more people with missing teeth than I've ever seen, so lay off our dentistry, you lot!
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 1:18 PM on July 12, 2010


Sex, food, and shame.
posted by Fizz at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2010


There were also more people with missing teeth than I've ever seen, so lay off our dentistry, you lot!

Lay off our bellies, you lot! As much as you might want to make us the epitome of unhealthiness and evil, I think both of our countries give the other a run for their money.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:03 PM on July 13, 2010


« Older Perspective Matters....  |  At three minutes per philosoph... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments