Sometimes when you lose, you really win (or something cheesy like that)
It was a close one, that's for sure. About a dozen eaters crammed the narrow tables for The First Annual Spot Hot Dog Eating Contest in Harrisburg, Pa. The premise was simple: the first to finish their eight dogs was the winner.
Long story short, my brother Jason (competing in his first ever eating event) won the contest by half a dog over Pete Miernicki and a full dog over me. We were pretty much the top three. Sadly, nobody was timing the contest, so I have no idea how speedy we were. For his efforts, Jason won a trophy, a ham and a $50 gift certificate to The Spot.
I learned from my last trial run that the Japanese hot dog eating method (separating the dogs from the buns and eating them separately) does not work well for me, so I invented my own method. Well, I'm not sure I really "invented" it. I'm sure it's been done before, but basically I squeezed the air out of the buns -- compacting them around the dog -- in an attempt to cut down on the overall mass of the bun. I hoped it would also reduce the amount of saliva and water the buns would soak up during the eating process. It worked pretty well. At least better than any other method I've used. Maybe I shouldn't share this secret here, but it was pretty evident from anyone watching that that's what I was doing.
My brother had a different method, though from watching him, you wouldn't think he was doing anything differently than anyone else. He shared his secret with me after the contest and it's such a smart strategy that I won't divulge it here because it's his to tell if he wants to and I want to test it out for myself to see if it truly does work. In theory, it sounds brilliant -- at least for speed contests like this one.
Even though I lost, I have to admit it was pretty cool to see my brother win this event. I might have the competitive eating passion in this family, but he's got all the talent. It'll be interesting to see if he can defend his status as Harrisburg's top eater in next month's Kokomo's Wing Eating Contest. Enjoy the pics below (see the full set here).
Even though it's blurry, I like this picture because it's a classic example of "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." That's Jason in the background and Pete Miernicki (the second place finisher and a man with four Nathan's Hot Dog Qualifiers under his belt) in the foreground.
Me, Brad, Billy (the owner of The Spot) and Jason. Brad is a co-worker of mine who was going to compete in the event, but was feeling "sick" and backed out. Funny, he doesn't look too sick in this picture, does he?
This was all that was left on my plate at the end. My "squeezing technique" is evident here. Yeah, that's a hair in the upper right portion of my plate (click to enlarge). I had to look at that little curly thing the whole time, but I didn't let it slow me down. Come on people, I may not be a pro eater, but at least I've got the heart of one.