Say you are on a first date and wondering what’s the maximum number of hot dogs that you can possibly eat in 10 minutes. Well, a study published in Biology Letters has an answer for you.
To arrive at this answer James M. Smoliga, DVM, PhD, of High Point University created a statistical model. The purpose of the model was to figure out how many hot dogs you could physically consume in a 10-minute span and not how many you could cram down your mouth without your date leaving in disgust. The latter is probably anywhere between two and 10 hot dogs depending on how long they are (the hot dogs, that is) and what your date thinks about hot dogs in general.
Oh, and the model was for humans. So if you are an anaconda and have hot dog buns, hon, this study won’t apply to you.
To construct the model, Smoliga used data on the best of the best of the best: the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Hall of Fame. The data that he used went up to February 2020. So it didn’t include the latest installment of the competition, which occurred 11 days ago on July 4. As the following ESPN broadcast 2020 competition showed, 13-time champ Joey Chestnut broke his own world record by downing 75 dogs in 10 minutes:
You can see how close the competition was. Chestnut barely edged the second place finisher by only 33 hot dogs.
On the women’s side, seven-time champ Miki Sudo relished the challenge, snagging the women’s world record by inhaling 48.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes:
Using the hot dog eating contest historical data, Smoliga graphed the winning active consumption rate (ACR), which he defined as “the mass of food consumed in a given active feeding time period” by year. He also took into account the observed trend that athletic records frequently progress in an S-shaped (or sigmoidal) pattern over time. At the beginning, progress tends to be slow with records not increasing by much. However, as a sport grows in popularity, at some point, athletes bring new techniques, approaches, and talents, resulting in a period of rapid improvement. This pushes records up higher in an accelerated fashion. Eventually though, progress slows, as athletes hit physical limits and performance reaches a plateau.
It wouldn’t be surprising if eating records were to reach plateaus at some point. After all, there’s only so much the stomach can expand unless your stomach were somehow connected to something like a leaf blower. The stomach typically is the limiting factor because the food doesn’t have time to progress down through the intestines. As I have described before for Forbes, competitive eaters typically have stomachs that can expand to a greater degree than your run-of-the-mill amateur eater.
Combining the hot dog-eating record historical data with the S-shaped pattern, Smoliga figured out that hot dog eating may be nearing the plateau phase. Smoliga projected that the plateau will be about 8.32 hot dogs per minute or about 832 g of hot dogginess per minute. Over a 10 minute period, that would be 83 hot dogs, which equates to 24,000 calories in case you are on a diet and counting calories.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that other types of eating contests are at the same stage. The composition and texture of the food being consumed do make a difference. So perhaps records at the Berkwood Farms Bacon Eating Contest, the Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship, the World Pie Eating Championship, the National Harbor World Peeps Eating Championship, the La Costeña Jalapeño Eating Contest Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship, and the World’s Ice Cream Eating Championship will proceed differently. Indeed, 83 hot dogs in your stomach may not be similar to the same number or volume of Peeps looking upwards while sitting in your stomach.
Let’s be frank. Unless you are professional eater and your name rhymes with “Best Nut,” you will probably never get anywhere near consuming 83 hot dogs in just 10 minutes. Over the past two decades, Takeru Kobayashi and then Chestnut have taken the sport to new heights, separating the top dogs from the rest of humanity. Kobayashi won the 2001 Nathan’s competition with 50 hot dogs. Before that the sport never sausage a number. The previous year’s winning tally was just 25.125 hot dogs.
Therefore, your maximum is likely a lot less than this 83-dog limit. For some, a three dog night may be plenty. Ultimately, treat your body like K-Pop, listen to it. If anything in your body says stop, just stop.
Plus, eating so many hot dogs ain’t great for your health. Some claim that intermittent fasting is a good thing to do. Well, consuming all those hot dogs would be the exact opposite, unless you consider taking a breath to be fasting. It would be a huge caloric and salt load. Plus, choking would be a distinct possibility. A hug at the end of a date may be a good sign, but not the Heimlich.