It’s a tradition that is as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. It’s right there in the middle. The hot dogs.
Every 4th of July brave men and women from all around the world compete in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York. You might have heard the name Joey Chestnut. Last week he broke his own world record eating an astonishing 74 hot dogs with buns in only 10 minutes.
But, did you know there is an Oxford man who also competed in this year’s competition? Meet Geoffrey Esper, an Electronics teacher at Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School.
A professional competitive eater since 2014, Geoff has done quite well, not only with frankfurters – but also coming in first place in taco, burger, wing and pizza eating contests. He even placed in the top 3 in 2016’s National Peeps Eating Championship, consuming 160 marshmallow Peeps in 5 minutes.
Geoffrey told THE LAKE 940, this was his fourth time competing at Coney. “I only ate 41 hot dogs this year, I had a bad day for sure, and ended in 4th place.” Only 41? Well his best so far is 51, he joked.
When it comes to competing against Joey Chestnut, Geoffrey says he has done that a lot, but he is almost unbeatable in hot dogs, but Geoff says, “I have been able to beat him in other competitions” including the 2018 World Chili Challenge in Orlando.
How do you get to become the 4th most famous “Major League Eater” in the world? Practice. Lots and lots of practice. Esper has downed several hundreds of hot dogs in the months leading up to the competition.
So, how did he get started?
He tells us, he began participating in Man vs. Food challenges at local restaurants. “It was a fun way to get free food. I then stared doing local speed eating contests and found out I was pretty good. I was hooked. And it snowballed.”
What’s next for Geoff? He plans to get even better in years to come. “I would like to place 3rd at Coney next year. I really should have this year.” He also tells us that he’d love to be able to eat at least 60 hot dogs in a competition. “I’ve already gotten close in practice.”
In case you ever wondered, (we did) why some of the competitors separate the franks from the buns during the tournament, Geoff says, “It is much easier and faster to separate the dogs from bun. Two dogs, two buns. The goal is to find a rhythm and keep it up as long as you can.”
We asked him if there was a trick to dipping the buns in water to make them soggy, but the champ says there isn’t one. “It’s really not that bad once you do it once or twice.”
“During the contest we try not to drink that much and rely it on the soggy bun to be our beverage. Different eaters use different liquids to dunk.” Geoff says some use hot water or lemonade, but what does he prefer? “I like using room temp fruit juice.”
Lastly, what happens after the event might surprise you. Consuming so much food in such a short amount of time you may think it makes contestants feel sick, but our local expert says, throwing up is out of the question. “If you throw up you will be disqualified.”
He continued, “40 hot dogs is really a poor showing for me. So I really wasn’t even full. 40 hot dogs weigh about 8 pounds. I’m usually fairly comfortable up to around 11 or 12 pounds. After that I’m definitely feeling it.”
A video, featuring the top dogs from the 2018 Coney Island competition is below.