Wieners Take All!

Hey, isn't it cool that the Buccos are in first place? It's always great to cheer on a winner. Well, tomorrow at noon in Market Square — that would be Wednesday, June 13 — you can root for a whole bunch of wieners, uh we mean winners, when the regional round of Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest Qualifier returns to Pittsburgh at noon. Nearly as old as Major League Baseball, the Nathan's competition took its first bite out of the action in 1916, at the Original Nathan's location on New York City's very own Coney Island. And we're proud to say that our hometown is one of a few select cities chosen for qualifying rounds. That's the kind of ranking we really relish.

Now, a lot of games can have a lot of rules. But for this match up, the guidelines are simple. You gotta eat more frankfurters and buns than anyone else during 10 minutes. These big league eaters can help the dogs go down easier by dunking them in the beverage of their choice or chomp them down or bite by bite. But the only "no-no" in this wiener take all battle is that they must swallow every bite. There are no "put backs," if you know what we mean.

Judging by last year's event, the  2012 qualifier will be even more ferocious in this man bites dog battle. "Big" Brian Subich of Johnstown looms large in the men's field as a previous winner in North Carolina. But the rest of the pack will be nipping at his heels — and big piles of hot dogs — as they go for the title and a chance to win an  trip to chow down at the July 4 Championship, which draws 40,000 fans to the corner of Stillwell and Surf avenues, just a couple blocks away from Coney Island's famous Cyclone roller coaster. Along with a broadcast on ESPN that's viewed by almost two million fans, the men's and women's eating champs will pocket a cash prize big enough to keep them up to their necks in Nathan's dogs.

For the first time in Pittsburgh, a husband and wife will compete on the same stage when Theresa Subich sets her sight on the women's crown. And just what does it take to be the champ?  Well, it's a combination of a big appetite for Nathan's hot dogs, a cast-iron stomach and a determination to win. Last year's winners of the fast-and-furious franks fest in the Square each downed 28 dogs in 10 minutes. To put that into perspective, world champion eater Joe Chestnut consumed 68 Nathan's Famous dogs in the same amount of time — a record that actually might be hard to swallow for mere mortals.

Even though it's too late to compete in this year's event, it's never to late to begin training for the 2013 competition. You can start getting in shape, sort of, by visiting the Downtown Nathan's at the corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue. After all, everyone loves a wiener.

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