Joey Chestnut ate 69 Nathan’s Famous hotdogs in 10 minutes yesterday, in the 98th annual Coney Island hotdog eating contest. Sonya Thomas ate 36 and 3/4 in the women’s competition.
I’ve eaten two Nathan’s Famous hotdogs in one sitting. They are not the best in America- but they are damn good, with great snap and savor. The Coney Island location treats them with the proper respect, and also serves nice crispy fries. Plus, Coney is just a place worth visiting. I can think of few places that distill the essence of American culture, good and bad, as finely as Coney Island. The rampant entrepreneurs, the hucksterism and showmanship, the chaotic tangle of buildings old and new, the crazy rides that probably haven’t been properly inspected by an ungreased palm in years, the gorgeous freaks at the Coney Island freak show, and jumble of cultures old and new. The Russians in Brighton Beach, the oldest pizzeria (Totonno’s), it’s the bottom corner of the Brooklyn chex mix bag where all the flavors are compacted into sharp, overpowering little pebbles. The neighborhood has an energy, and if there were American warrior shamans who could leech magic from the soil, this would be an epicenter of enormous power.
That power fueled Joey Chestnut to breaking his world record this year. Last year he ate 68. If you really want to watch someone gulp down that many hot dogs, here is a video.
For the record, my top hot dogs:
Ripper with Relish, Rutt’s Hut, Clifton NJ
The Spicy Redneck, Crif Dog, Lower East Side, NYC
Chicago Dog loaded, Wiener’s Circle, Chicago
Rahall’s Red Hot Weenie, Hillbilly Hotdogs, Lesage WV
Pink’s, Los Angeles, CA
Chili Cheese Dog, Hiram’s Roadstand, Fort Lee, NJ
Nathan’s Famous, Nathan’s, Coney Island NY.
The Texas Tommy, Big Daddy’s, Park Ave, NYC.