Bite by Bite: All You Need to Know About Hotdog Eating Contests

Monday, July 6, 2009

So you think that finishing a hotdog in less than 5 minutes is already mean feat? Think again.

In 2007, 24 year-old Joey Chestnut won the 92nd Annual Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest. His winning form? Downing 66 hotdog sandwiches in 12 minutes.

Joey Chestnut is but one of the rising superstars in the field of competitive eating. Competitive eating is an activity in which participants compete against each other to consume large quantities of food in a short time period. Contests are typically less than 15 minutes in length, with the person consuming the most food being declared the winner.

And no, this isn’t a fast food fad that’ll fizzle out quickly. In fact, informal eating contests probably date back thousands of years. The International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) even observes that “30 hungry Neanderthals in a cave fighting over a rabbit” probably constitutes the first instance of competitive eating. Meanwhile, in terms of magnitude, the United States, Japan and England have embraced it the most.

“It’s almost like a sport with its pageantry and play-by-play commentary. But what really drives home the comparison is the skill, discipline and training shown by participants,” says 7-Eleven’s Food Service Division Manager Armi Andrade.

Competitive eaters or "gurgitators," say that just like bodybuilders or marathoners, their success results from intensive training. But far from them requiring just physical training, they need mental preparedness as well. In fact Hall Hunt, a structural engineer currently ranked 9th in competitive eating, takes an academic approach by studying food density and identifying which liquids are best in breaking down food. He notes for example that lemonade cuts down the grease on French fries.

The rules that govern an eating contest are pretty simple. The food to be eaten is either weighed, like cabbage, or cut into uniform pieces, in the case of a pizza-eating contest, for example. No one is allowed to start eating until an official gives the signal. Competitors can eat the food however they want, either breaking it into pieces or just shoving it in. They can dip the food into a liquid (usually water) to make it softer.
“Yes, it’s fun to watch and it’s undeniably entertaining” quips Andrade. And now, Filipinos can showcase their ingestion prowess with the biggest competitive eating event in the country – 7-Eleven’s Big Bite Match.

“Filipinos love to eat and we also respond well to challenges,” says Andrade. “This combination creates an ideal environment for competitive eating. We aim to provide Filipino competitive eaters a venue that can be recognized in an international scale to showcase their one of a kind skill.”

Until August 15, Filipino eating machines can go to the nearest 7-Eleven store in their area and avail of the Big Bite Pack that contains five hotdog sandwiches of their choice and one Big Gulp. To start the journey to hotdog munching supremacy, participants should finish the five sandwiches in the shortest time possible. The fastest eaters from 7-Eleven stores nationwide will compete in a grand culminating event where only one will be proclaimed champion and will receive Php 500, 000 in cash.

“This is our first step in infiltrating the global competitive eating arena and we believe that Filipinos, as we’ve proven in other fields, can wow the world with their appetite for victory,” ends Andrade.

7-Eleven is celebrating its 25th year of being the largest convenience store chain in the Philippines. For inquiries about franchising, please contact the Customer Hotline at 724-10-31 or the Mobile Hotline at 0920-945-2036. Big Bite ® Match is the biggest competitive eating event in the Philippines visit for more information

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