Key Moments in the History of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

The bejeweled Mustard Yellow International Belt, worn only by the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Champion, is to hot dog aficionados what Faberge Eggs were to Tsar Nicholas. For those with modern sport sensibilities, the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is competitive eating’s Masters and the Mustard Yellow Belt is the sport’s Green Jacket. The belt is of unknown age and value and is unveiled only at the annual contest. On July 4, 2011, Nathan’s Famous will introduce a bejeweled pink belt for the first-ever Women’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion on July 4, 2011.

1916: The first Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is held the year Nathan’s Famous opens on Surf Avenue.

1930s: Stan Libnitz of Flushing and Andrew Rudman of Brighton Beach alternate victories for eight years until their final bout in 1938 when Rudman edges out Libnitz by a ½ hot dog. Libnitz cries foul that Rudman elbowed him in the gut during competition.

1950s: German woman Gerta Hasselhoff claims the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating title after training on bratwurst.

1991: Frank “Large” Dellarosa of Maspeth, Queens eats 21 ½ HDBs.

1993: Nathan’s champ Mike Devito defeats female Japanese eating phenom Orio Ito in a special one-on-one contest.

1996: Ed Krachie of Maspeth, Queens puts away 22 ¼ hot dogs to top the previous record.

1997: Hirofumi Nakajima of Japan downs 24 ½ HDBs to defeat U.S. champion Krachie in an international competition.

2001: Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan sets a new record by eating 50 HDBs. He won a trip to the July 4 contest on a Japanese TV show. Kobayashi goes on to win the Nathan’s title for five more years.

2004: Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, VA becomes first woman to break the 30 HDB mark.

2007: Joey “Jaws” Chestnut of San Jose, CA, downs 66 Nathan’s Famous HDBs to defeat Takeru Kobayashi and bring the Mustard Yellow Belt to America.

2008: Chestnut and Kobayashi battle bite for bite, finishing in an even tie. A dramatic five hot dog eat off ensues and in 50 seconds Joey Chestnut finishes his hot dogs and claims his second straight title.

2009: Chestnut sets a new world record of 68 HDBs in 10 minutes to secure his third straight Mustard Yellow Belt. Sonya Thomas sets women’s world record of 41 hot dogs and buns. Juliet Lee of Germantown, MD becomes second woman to surpass 30 HDBs.

2010: Chestnut secures his fourth consecutive Nathan’s Famous title.

2011: Nathan’s Famous introduces a separate Women’s Championship to recognize the growing number of female competitors in the sport. Men’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion and Women’s Hot Dog Eating World Champion are crowned on July Fourth. Three eaters representing China compete on July Fourth after competing in the first-ever Beijing qualifier in June.