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Fifty is nifty for a living legend

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The Jackie Chan and Terje Haakonsen posters are coming down – I have a new hero.

He may not look like much at all of 5-foot-4 and 131 pounds soaking wet, but damn, can 23 year old Takeru Kobayashi ever eat hot dogs!

At the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, the world series of eating competitions, Kobayashi slugged down 50 hot dogs and buns in just 12 minutes – that’s not a typo, that’s F-I-F-T-Y freakin’ dogs! That’s one hot dog and one bun every 14.4 seconds, or, imagine if you will, a single hot dog that’s over 20 feet long.

Now world records get broken all the time – a tenth of a second here, a metre there, but Kobayashi destroyed any existing frame of reference. Prior to July 4, 2001, a day that will surely live in infamy, the world record was a measly 25 dogs and one bite.

Most of the other competitors stopped eating to watch history being made, while the crowd got louder and louder with every hot dog Kobayashi consumed. A few troopers kept scarfing, but next to Kobayashi they were the ones that looked 131 pounds.

Towards the end of this jaw-dropping spectacle, Kobayashi went into a kind trance, twitching and stomping his feet, fighting nausea maybe, or maybe trying to jiggle eight pounds of bread and pork products through his digestive system. The concentration on his face was intense.

Kobayashi is part of a recent movement whereby a core of Japanese eaters are going through the books and claiming the records for the Land of the Rising Sun. First Godzilla, now this.

Richard Shea, the publicist for the International Federation of Competitive Eating, had this to say about Kobayashi’s feat:

"The entire city is just paralyzed with the news. It’s just nuts. I have my alibi on the John F. Kennedy assassination and I know where I was for the moon landing – but I have no explanation for what happened today."

Whether anyone other than Kobayashi himself will be able to top this feat is the big question, one that could be answered next year – the first 50 will take about that long to digest.

Restaurants raise $108K for AIDS Charities

It took a while to collect the receipts, but at last organizers have announced that the eighth annual "Dining Out For Life" fund-raiser, held in March, collected more than $108,000 for Lower Mainland AIDS charities.

More than 150 restaurants took part, including 12 Whistler restaurants, donating 25 per cent of all food revenues on March 15 to A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life.

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