Wolf Files: Too Fat to Eat Fast?

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"I also walk as I do this, so that helps me take in as much liquid as I can." As thin competitors, Thomas and Kobayashi may be better able to stretch out their stomachs, at least according to former hot dog-chomping champ Edward Krachie, who is researching what he calls the "Belt of Fat Theory."

According to the theory, when a heavy person eats, the expansion of his stomach is restricted by his rolls of fat, which hold in his gut like a belt, and may explain the recent dominance of smaller eaters.

Krachie, who weighs 470 pounds, held the hot dog-eating record before Kobayashi, eating 22 dogs in 1996. He studied food competitors of various sizes over a five-year period to develop the Belt of Fat Theory, which remains one of the sport's biggest controversies.

"I believe if Ed 'Cookie' Jarvis lost 100 pounds, he'd be a better eater," says Kevin Lipsitz, who took the pickle-eating championship from New York radio personality Curtis Sliwa a few years ago by consuming 2 pounds of sour pickles in five minutes.

"But Ed is one of the best in the business. He knows what he's doing, and he keeps getting better."

Lipsitz retired from hot dog eating after competing for a record seven straight years.

Still, he remembers training for the Coney Island competition with his two German shepherds, Sabrina and Rascal — and weight control wasn't the aim. "I'd cook up a family pack of 40 hot dogs and we'd race," he says, adding, "We don't eat out of the same bowl."

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.