Yes, competitive eating is wasteful and twisted, especially when others are starving. Hyper-consumption may be a hallmark of #American culture, but the popularity of modern speed eating can be attributed to #Japan.
In the 1990s, before it caught on in its present iteration in the U.S., televised eating contests like “Gluttonous King” were big in Japan, giving rise to #Kobayashi, who is credited with revolutionizing the sport. His 2001 #Nathan’s record of 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes, which doubled the previous event record, was the equivalent of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute-mile barrier in 1954. Kobayashi’s technique of breaking the hot dog in half, eating both halves simultaneously and dipping the buns in water to ease their delivery has since become the competition’s standard.
Japanese speed eaters like Gal Sone, a petite gurgitator-turned-pop star, continue to hold the mantle. Meanwhile, opportunities to throw back obscene amounts of the food of your choice are multiplying, from the World Flauta Eating Championship to the Thanksgiving Meal Invitational.