This is the max number of hot dogs a human can cram down

Don't try this at home.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Chowing down at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in July 2019.

Photo by Li Muzi/Xinhua via Getty

James Smoliga, a High Point University physiology and sports medicine specialist, has harnessed his expertise in the service of humanity by calculating just how many hot dogs a person could potentially wolf down in 10 minutes. Thank you, Dr. Smoliga.

Smoliga crunched the data from 39 years of Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual event that challenges eaters to shove as many dogs down their throats as possible in just 10 minutes. He used a mathematical model to estimate a theoretical maximal active consumption rate (ACR) for humans. 

"Through nonlinear modelling and generalized extreme value analysis, I show that humans are theoretically capable of achieving an ACR of approximately 832 g min−1 fresh matter over 10 min duration," Smoliga wrote in the research article, which was published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters. That translates to about 83 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

If that sounds insane, it's not. Competitive eater Joey Chestnut demolished the competition in the Nathan's contest this year by snarfing down 75 hot dogs (in buns) over the course of 10 minutes.

Miki Sudo, the reigning champion in the women's division of the hot dog contest, has seen the results of the study. "I'm only 34.5 hot dogs away from perfection!" she tweeted. She managed to put away an impressive 48.5 dogs.

Smoliga took the study a step further by comparing human performance with that of some well-known eaters from the rest of the animal kingdom. It turns out people could potentially outeat a grizzly bear, but grey wolves have us beat.

There's some fudge factor here. "The contest duration makes it difficult to directly relate ACRs between species, though comparison with existing data highlights the impressive eating capacity of humans," Smoliga wrote.

Smoliga noted that eating competitions are unique environments where a ready and unlimited food supply and the presence of spectators may influence ACR. 

The study also calls out the impressive increases in consumption performance among contest competitors over the years. Both Chestnut and Sudo set new hot dog-eating world records in 2020, making them wiener winners worthy of worship. 

As for the rest of us, sticking with just a hot dog or two for dinner is probably a good idea.

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