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Hot Dog Contests: American as Apple Pie

As we venture forth as a nation this weekend celebrating our 233rd year of Independence from those monarchical Red Coats, there are few things more intrinsically Colonial than a good ol' fashioned hot dog. ↵

↵Yes, I'm not ashamed to proclaim my love of wieners. ↵

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↵There's just something about the frankfurter that, on a basic fundamental level, is uniquely American. We talk of melting pots, but isn't the hot dog a more apt analogy? Different people, from all different parts of this glorious creature we call Earth, smacked together into an unrecognizable amassment of wonderful cohesiveness. And yes, much like a hot dog, we've got our fair share of ... saltiness (what did you think I was going to write?). ↵

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↵This weekend, when you embark upon your BBBQ, think about how that little tube steak is as ingrained in the fabric of American culture as the game of baseball, with only a smidge fewer steroids. Then, after spending a few minutes fighting off party-goers who clearly have no clue how to properly cook a solid American frank tell you they like theirs "burnt to a crisp," grab a dog, a bun and your condiment of choice and toast to the Founding Fathers who created this great land. Then eat a dozen of those suckers. ↵

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↵I think I could eat 25 hot dogs in one day. Clearly I am no competitive eater. I have no entourage, as Spencer Hall adeptly uncovered those in the world of professional gorging often do. Although in defense of Mr. Chestnut, if I were a wiener devouring champion of his caliber, I'd be rolling at least 12 deep. I'd have a bun boy, a water waiter, a condiment ... chap and nine others -- just for crowd control and the occasional stomach pumping. Joey Chestnut is a unique type of American hero. We think football players have little regard for the well being of their own bodies every time they step on the field? Think about the lack of regard for their bodies, or quite frankly human decency, displayed every time a competitive eater ties his hands behind his back and goes nose first into a never-ending cascade of blueberry pies. ↵

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↵Competitive eating is a sport, alright. And it's something we can all do. But might I make a suggestion to the competitive eating board? Stop making the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, held every Fourth of July on fabulous Coney Island, New York, a race. Don't make the contestants eat as many dogs as they can in just 10 minutes (note: last year went to overtime as Chestnut defeated rival Kobayashi in a dog-off). ↵

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↵No, let the contestants enjoy their wieners. A constant cavalcade of delicious, well-cooked dogs should be the reward of this contest, not the means to a championship-belt boasting end. It seems the hot dog has become an innocent bystander for the purpose of competition -- no different than asparagus or chicken fried steak or (oh my word) butter. A good dog should be enjoyed, not devoured at the intestine-clenching pace of six per minute. So if you decide to take part in a hot dog eating contest of your own this weekend, and really it's un-American not to, challenge a pal to see who can eat the most dogs throughout the day. The over under is set at 16 (note: there are eight hot dogs to a pound, and 470mg of sodium in each serving, which according to Nathan's, is only one link). Enjoy your wieners at whatever pace you like. ↵

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↵And happy birthday America. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.