Eating contests are about more than just a casual competition about seeing who can eat the most food the fastest. Major League Eating (MLE) is an actual organization that regulates the sport — much in the way Major League Baseball does. They oversee professional eating contests at fairs and festivals all around the country all year long.
Even if you’re not up for the challenge of taking down dozens of hot dogs in a single sitting, you can stop by one of these festivals and be entertained by some of the world’s best eaters — many of them are hosted annually. If it doesn’t make you ill, these eat feats will at least make you marvel at what the human body is capable of!
Coney Island, NY
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, July 4
Record: Joey Chestnut, 73.5 hot dogs: 10 minutes
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is the Super Bowl of eating contests. The famous hot dog company has been dishing out dogs since 1916, but the contest came to be in 1972. Legend has it that four immigrants had a hot dog eating contest to see who was more patriotic, so to this day, the festival maintains its American inspired roots and takes places always on the Fourth of July. Joey Chestnut holds the record to-date with 69 hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes — that’s about 24,000 calories, but who’s counting?! The festival also famously donates $10,000 to the Food Bank for New York City.
Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship, July
Record: Geoffrey Esper, 250 wings: 10 minutes, 2017
The annual Hooters’ hosted wing-eating event tests jaw strength, endurance, hand speed, and most of all, stomach capacity. Esper won $8,500 in 2017 for his monumental foodie-feat. He displaced previous champion Joey Chestnut who held the record at 241 from 2015.
Niko Niko’s World Gyro Eating Championship, May
Record: Matthew Stonie, 30 8-ounce Niko Niko’s Gyros: 10 minutes
Niko Niko’s World Gyro Championship takes place during the Houston Annual Greek Fest — a celebration of all things Greek since 1994. As one of the most iconic Greek foods in America today, the gyro, roasted meat wrapped in a pita bread with Greek sauce, serves as the source for the national eating championship. Most people feel that one gyro is typically pretty filling, but to take down 24, you’d need the help of the Greek Gods.
new orleans, LA
The Acme Oyster Eating World Championship, Acme Oyster House, May/June
Record: Sonya Thomas, 47 dozen oysters: 10 minutes
Oysters are in no short supple in The Big Easy, and it’s a good thing. Sonya Thomas set the record at the annual New Orleans Oyster Festival when she slurped down 564 oysters in just 10 minutes — that’s nearly one oyster every second for 10 minutes!
san jose, CA
Chacho’s World Taco Eating Championship, August
Record: Matthew Stonie, 101 tacos: 8 minutes
TPM: 12.625. That’s Matthew Stonie’s rate of “tacos per minute” during the Chacho’s Taco Championship in San Jose. The festival welcomes locals and food-loving out-of-towners alike for fun, music, and of course, tacos everywhere you turn.
los angeles, CA
The Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship, August
Record: Joey Chestnut, 384 gyoza: 10 minutes
Gyoza’s are more than just a soft meat-and-veggie-filling dumplings we order as appetizers. They are a part of Japanese culture that is celebrated during the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. The event raises money to support Japanese American Cultural foundations.
The Bass Pro Shops World MoonPie Eating Championship
Record: Matt Stonie, 85 MoonPies: 8 minutes
Matt Stonie may no longer be over the moon for MoonPies after eating 85 of them in 8 minutes.
National Doughnut Day at the Shops at Liberty Place
Record: Joey Chestnut, 257 powdered Hostess Donettes: 6 minutes
No word on how much milk it took to down more than 21 dozen powdery mini doughnuts, but that’s what Joey Chestnut did to take home the $4,000 prize in 2018.
new york city
Max & Mina Ice Cream Eating Contest
Record: Ed “Cookie” Jarvis, 1 gallon, 9 ounces of vanilla ice cream: 12 minutes
And the record for worst brain freeze goes to Ed Jarvis.