Ten! Nine! Eight! . . . As the crowd counted down last July 4, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut continued shoving hot dogs into his mouth. When the clock ran out, Chestnut had won the 2021 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island in New York City. He had broken his own world record, wolfing down 76 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes.
Each year, countless people watch contests like this one, in which competitors eat everything from piles of chicken wings to tubs of baked beans. Most fans see these events as fun and harmless entertainment. They point out that speed eaters, like athletes, spend a lot of time training, so they know what their bodies can safely handle.
However, many nutrition experts find the idea of speed-eating contests hard to swallow. They argue that having competitors stuff their faces with food promotes unhealthy eating habits. Other people say these competitions are wasteful, especially when so many Americans don’t have enough to eat.