Two competitive eating champions defended their title Thursday at New York's annual Independence Day hot dog eating competition.
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut of San Jose, California, snagged his seventh straight victory, and Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, defended her women's division title at the 98th annual hot dog chow down sponsored by Nathan's Famous.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Americans gobble down 818 hot dogs every second, according to National Hot Dog & Sausage Council statistics. On Independence Day alone, the people of this great nation devour approximately 150 million hot dogs.
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut hopes to be responsible for at least 69 of them. That's how many HDB (hot dogs and buns, in competitive eating speak) it would take to best his previous record of 68 in 10 minutes, set at the 2009 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. The former construction manager turned full-time competitive eater tied that stat last year, locking in his sixth consecutive victory at the Coney Island contest.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
There was a time, not that long ago, when it seemed like hard cider was consigned either to Rip Van Winkle-like New Englanders, long of beard and weird of brain, or the English. Well, that’s changed. In just the past few years, cider has become bizarrely popular: sales were up 62.6% in 2012. Woodchuck, the most popular brand, sold over two and a half million cases last year, and others weren’t far behind.
But cider and America have a long association. In fact, cider was far more popular than beer in Colonial times, largely due to the fact that it was a lot easier to grow apples than barley in New England. In the 1700s, we glugged cider like nobody’s business - about 35 gallons per year per person, on average. As a comparison, per person wine consumption in the US today is about 2.5 gallons per person, and beer is about 28 gallons per person.
Cider consumption may be minimal now compared to what it once was, but as I mentioned, it’s on the upswing. And there are some mighty good ciders out there. Here are a few, some from the U.S. and some from overseas, and all of them ideal for drinking icy-cold at a July 4th picnic - or any time, really.
Some people maintain that Memorial Day weekend officially marks the start of grilling season and Labor Day, the end. Those people, for the most part, are wrong. Some folks maintain the flame in snowdrifts up to their thighs. Others won't haul out the hibachi until late September because it'll finally be cool enough to cook outside without wilting like a hothouse gardenia. July is National Grilling Month, but that's just kind of incidental.
What we're saying is, so long as our spatula isn't actively frozen or melted to our hands, and monsoon spray does not prevent us from lighting a charcoal chimney, we're going to be outdoors, putting flame to food and quaffing a cold beverage. Why don't you just come along and join us?
Catch up on the rest of our great cookout and picnic tips below, and if you run into a sticky grilling situation - we're here to help. Share your burning questions in the comments or Tweet us @eatocracy and we'll have your festivities back on track in no time.
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