Writer Burt Prelutsky on Takeru Kobayashi, 6-time Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Champion:


By this time, the entire civilized world knows that Mr. Takeru Kobayashi, 27, has pulled off the near-impossible feat of winning his sixth consecutive Coney Island hot dog eating contest. I have no idea how one goes about training for this event, and I suspect I wouldn’t want to know, but I’m pretty darn sure that steroids play no part in it. For that alone, the man is to be commended.
The only thing comparable that springs to mind is Lance Armstrong’s string of Tour de France victories. But I think that even if Mr. Armstrong is innocent of all those blood-doping charges that blood-doping losers keep bringing up, his accomplishment pales by comparison to Kobayashi’s. After all, how many adults do you know who still ride bicycles? But everybody eats. And a great many of us eat hot dogs. But how many do you think you could eat at one sitting? Maybe three? Let’s say you starved yourself for a day or two. Think you could maybe down four or five? The great Kobayashi devoured slightly more than 53 in 12 minutes, and that included buns! That works out to about four-and-a-half per minute, or roughly one every 14 seconds. Truly, the mind boggles. To tell you the truth, just thinking about it makes my stomach do a little boggling.
Kobayashi, who weighs a mere 160 pounds — although I don’t know if that’s his before or after weight — is no one-trick pony. Once, in order to win a $25,000 prize, he put away 17.7 pounds of pan-seared cow brains. I’m not aware if there was a time limit on that occasion. I’d say if he managed to do it in less than 10 years, he more than earned his money.
Besides being a human garbage disposal, Takeru might be a very nice fellow for all I know, but you invite this guy for dinner, and it could blow your food budget for the next six months. You don’t worry about his asking for seconds; his firsts will clean out your refrigerator and whatever’s hanging around in your pantry.
Apparently, food-eating contests have become a big deal while I wasn’t paying attention. For instance, Kobayashi had a real fight on his hands from an up-and-comer named Joey Chestnut. He wolfed down 52 hot dogs to run a close second. And if you’d been smart enough to put your money on Joey, who was, according to the bookies, a four hot dog underdog, you’d have cleaned up.
But there are others in the field deserving of recognition in their own right. They even come with nicknames which I assume, for reasons possibly having to do with eating disorders, they’ve attached to themselves. Most notably, there’s Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, the pride of Alexandria, Virginia, who once ate 65 hardboiled eggs in 390 seconds, and Eric “Badlands” Booker, a 425-pound subway conductor from Long Island, who holds speed-eating records for pies and matzo balls. But, not simultaneously, one hopes.
It is, I think we’d all agree, a pretty impressive list, proving once again that what the mind of man can imagine, the stomach of man can accomplish.
And yet, I can’t help but think that in my own small way, I’ve earned the right to regard myself as one with Takeru, Joey, the Black Widow, and Badlands. For every Tuesday evening, so long as I lived with my folks, I had to deal with my mother’s diabolical salmon patties. To the question as to whether they were animal, vegetable or mineral, the most appropriate answer would have been…maybe. Compared to dealing with one of those babies, even consuming 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes seems no more than a cheap party trick.