Ok, so this has been on my bucket list since I started doing food challenges. The classic 4th of July Hot Dog competition. Whilst I’m not going to Coney Island any time soon (optimistic)/ever, this is in my book a good enough alternative for me.
So, what is it?
Well, you eat hot dogs for 30 minutes. Most dogs at the end of that time amongst competitors wins £50 Blues Kitchen credit. Nice and simple:
Since they came out in batches of five, I tried going for my usual technique of protein first, then carbs. The hot dogs went down fast. At the start I think I was over excited and used water to get them down faster, but towards the middle realised they go down just fine without it. Plus, that water would use up some of my capacity. Once the dogs were done, I got to work on the buns. Initially just sipping water, but eventually once the glass of water came, I tried on the technique of dunking the bun. Now, I’m not sure if it was because these buns were different, or because I scrunched them up before dunking (probably both), but they didn’t absorb enough water to ‘drink’ them like they do at Coney. It still helped a lot with getting them down.
The hot dogs went down reasonably fast. I went with a steady pace instead of going flat out since I knew this is a long event. I was fairly confident in my capacity in the long stretch, and also because I still get shy doing this stuff, so I tried to keep some table manners.
Towards the end, with a comfortable lead, the flavour fatigue was starting to hit and there wasn’t the pressure of someone catching up, so I slowed down more. Surprisingly, something that really helped, and I wish I had from the start, was beer! I joked at one point that I wish I had a beer, and later in the contest some legend gave me one! The beer really helped with the flavour fatigue, and get those pesky air pockets out of my stomach. Another thing during my last batch was they switched up the hot dogs (did we eat them out of the original ones?). The new ones had a strong spice flavour, which when you have had 20 dogs and are going through flavour fatigue, was quite an unwelcome surprise since the flavour kick was overpoweringly strong. Here I started using condiments and eating them sausage and bun together to try mix up that flavour, but at that point it was just coasting towards the end.
The hardest parts for me were the buns, sitting down at an angle that cut off capacity, and the final set of hot dogs that had an overpowering spice flavour. Whilst standing was allowed, I felt a bit too shy here to stand up to shake up some more capacity in me, especially with a lead like that. If you are considering competing, I highly recommend standing/ kneeling since after the competition when I stood up, the beer + standing combo cleared up so much capacity in me I felt like I could go through another tray without worries. I now fully appreciate the tip Randy gives with carbonated beverages for bigger challenges.
As for how I felt afterwards, it can be summarised as not ideal. Capacity wise I still had room in me, as I had some ice cream after… always room for ice cream, but I digress. The buns sat quite densely in my stomach. So, whilst not full, it felt like a lump just sitting in my stomach. I imagine this is how pythons feel. The trip home I could definitely feel the salt and quantity of food get to work on me. Body temperature went up (as is usually the case for me with larger challenges, since the body needs to get to work and use up energy to digest food, hence heat as a by-product), perspiration, thirst.
I mention all this since that is how I felt after 22 hot dogs. I can’t begin to imagine how the folks at Coney Island must feel after their events. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to some to know how the body deals with such unusual feats.
Don’t let that put you off. It was truly a fun experience and I recommend everyone at least give it a go just so you can say, been there, done that. The crowd were fantastic getting involved. Banter flying everywhere. It’s a hot dog contest… of course it is going to be light hearted and for fun. A very odd but interesting experience.
Thank you to Blues Kitchen for hosting this, and whomever gave me a beer during the contest, you legend.
If you want to get involved, keep a lookout for next year’s event on the Blues Kitchen Shoreditch website. Or, if you just want some BBQ in a cool venue, head on down to:
134-146 Curtain Rd,