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Part of the American tradition is to have a picnic and hot dogs on the 4th of July is standard practice. Some people may not like hot dogs, but Joey Chestnut does.

And who is Joey “Jaws” Chestnut? He is none other than the champion dog-eating glutton who this year downed 63 hot dogs and buns at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. This is well below his record of 76 of last year but was his 15th victory at the annual Fourth of July competition and he beat his closest chopper by 10 dogs.

How does he do it? Quickly, because he has only 10 minutes to devour them without getting sick (that comes later). After such contests, he sweats and claims that his body smells much like a hot dog. (He is married, and his wife agrees.)

Only in America can such a feisty foolish feast be counted as a sport. Chestnut first plunged into the world of competitive eating in 2005 while he was a student at San Jose State University. His first major victory came when he ate six-and-a-half pounds of fried asparagus in 11 1/2 minutes.

Chestnut's 2022 net worth is estimated at $2.5 million, and he has won the famous “Mustard Belt” 14 times. He also won both the hot dog competition and a pumpkin pie eating contest in Jacksonville in 2021. He ate 16 pounds, 12 ounces of pumpkin pie in 11 1/2 minutes.

Unfortunately, Chestnut was injured going into this year’s contest, with “a ruptured tendon. However, and he said “It’s all right. I’ll be able to stand up and eat. […] I’m not eating with my leg.”

Chestnut's height is 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m); his weight is 230 pounds (100 kg) and he admits that his recovery time has slowed with his older age (38).

Chestnut likes food other than dogs, and he once won the Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship, with 184 wings in 10 minutes. He tears apart the chicken wings and can eat 18.4 wings a minute.

He also won The Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship with 384 gyoza consumed in 10 minutes. Furthermore, in Minneapolis, MN at the World Brain Eating Competition (at Zombie Pub Crawl in Amarillo, Texas) Joey Jaws ate 54 brains in eight minutes.

Does all this make you want to run out and eat a hot dog? Probably not, and the photos of Chestnut wolfing down the dogs is enough to make the average eater sick. Nevertheless, this is America on the 4th of July, and Joey Jaws Chestnut is featured with his mouth of soaked (water is allowed) buns and dogs at Coney Island, New York.

Aussies call hotdogs snags, which can also refer to sliced bread and sausages. In Oz, you might hear someone say, “Grab a few snags and throw them on the barbie [the BBQ].”

I have read that an Aussie hotdog is also called the Dagwood Dog, a Pluto Pup, Dippy Dog, or Footie Franks. The Dagwood Dog is a hot dog sausage on a stick, covered in deep-fried batter and topped with a sauce. I have also heard the word “banger” applied to a sausage.

What about the Brits? Do they eat hot dogs and, if so, what do they call them? They call them, of course, "hot dogs" or even "frankfurters," which some people might also refer to as “franks” or "wieners."

Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is credited with originating the frankfurter, although this is disputed by those who assert that “the popular sausage - known as a "dachshund" or "little dog" sausage - was created in the late 1600s by Johann Georghehner, a butcher, living in Coburg, Germany.”

And what country eats the most hot dogs? It turns out to be Iceland, where every convenience store, kiosk, gas station, and roadside stop is said to carry them for meals, snacks, and pick-me-ups, even late-night snacks.

In America, West Virginia is the champion dog-eater, consuming 481 per capita every year, but Buffalo, NY is said to be the city that loves their dogs the most, followed by Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina.

To conclude our survey, here is what makes a Chicago hotdog famous: “it starts with a steamed poppy seed bun and an all-beef frankfurter. Then it's topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, freshly chopped onions, juicy red tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear, a couple of spicy sport peppers, and finally, a dash of celery salt.” (From the Internet, of course)

But don’t be a “hot dog,” someone who performs daring, showy, even dangerous stunts to impress people—even on July 4th.

Karl Franklin


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