Eating For a Living

| | "Cookie" Jarvis in action. Photo: IFOCE.com |

It's almost lunchtime here at PopSci HQ, and just as I was about to go grab some leftovers from the fridge, I stumbled across this tidbit from the wires. It seems Takeru Kobayashi, competitive eating's most talented gurgitator—yes, that's what they're officially called—has some new competition. In a regional-level contest, 22-year-old American newcomer Joey Chestnut ate 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes—only 3.5 dogs fewer than Kobayashi's world record. In doing so, he earned a seat at the Super Bowl of competitive eating, the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest held at Coney Island every summer, where he will face off against the pint-size world champ.

My interest piqued, I stumbled upon howstuffworks.com's extensive guide to competitive eating, where I learned a lot of great terminology. Kobayashi's penchant for halving his dogs before consumption, for instance, is referred to as the "Solomon Technique," or "Japanesing" in the gerund form. I also learned that if you want to be big in competitive eating, you've got to have a cool nickname; notables include Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, "Crazy Legs" Conti, "Cookie" Jarvis and Kobayashi, who goes by "The Tsunami."

PopSci has also weighed in on the science of gluttony, explaining how a 145-pound man is able to quickly eat such huge quantities of food—like, say, 18 pounds of cow brain, which is another of The Tsunami's records—without suffering a "Roman Incident." You can probably guess what that means.

Now, off to the hot-dog stand. —John Mahoney