Local hot dog gorgefests: 1 down, 1 more tomorrow

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A trio of eating experts during a 2006 contest in Philadelphia: Pat Philbin (left), who won in West Chester yesterday; Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, who won that day in 2006 by eating 36.5 Nathan's hot dogs; and "Humble" Bob Shoudt, who won last month's Philadelphia contest. Thomas also won a qualifier this year, so all three will be in Nathan's Coney Island contest on July Fourth.

Pat "from Moonachie" Philbin snarfed 22-1/2 hot dogs in 10 minutes yesterday in West Chester to qualify for the legendary Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held yearly on Coney Island.

Sounds impressive, but Royersford's Bob Shoudt ate 38 at the May 24 Philadelphia qualifier.

And both are many burps shy of the world's record 66 devoured by last year's champ, Joey Chestnut, who's also won Wing Bowl twice.

"My goal is to become the oldest eater to ever eat their age in hot dogs," Shoudt said this morning. "I am 41 and 3/4 so if I get that I will have the record."

Yes, these guys also eat the buns.

Anybody got some Pepto-Bismol?

Tomorrow at noon in Camden, some of the runner-ups will try again, but they'll face the hip-hop artist Philbin says will be a heavy favorite: Eric "Badlands" Booker.

"He's going to be hungry and focused, like he likes to sing about," said Philbin.

Among the expected challengers: Micah "Wing Kong" Collins and Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston, both of Drexel Hill.

The Camden contest, billed as the Jersey state championship, will be at 1 p.m. at the Nathan's Famous restaurant at Third and Market Streets.

Booker, who's from Long Island, explained he'll use his "double Japanese" technique, based on the bun-dunking practice of Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, many times a Nathan's champ.

"Because I'm a large individual I do two dogs at a time, two buns at a time," Booker said.

Booker said his best was 30-1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Collins, who lost yesterday by a measly half a hot dog, will use his own "double reverse bunning" technique " a very difficult variation of Crazy Leg Conti's 'reverse bunning' " ... letting me use the bun as my liquid instead of drinking from the cup."

"I really think I have a great shot at winning Camden," he said. "I know we will put on a great show for the crowd."

Livington deploys yet another strategy. "I typically follow the Solomon Method - splitting the meat into two parts and eating them on each side of my mouth," he said.

Philbin said the setting for yesterday's showdown, a QVC atrium with glass elevators and a balcony, was way classier than one of last year's - the Molly Pitcher service area on the Jersey Turnpike.

This year, instead of eating his hot dogs "picnic style" - inside the bun - Philbin tried chewing a few dogs by themselves, then eating water-dripped buns separately.

"It's very monotonous, like wet cotton. Ugh," he said.

He's not sure it helped.

Afterward, said Philbin, a single guy who lives in a trailer near Giants Stadium, he hung around, hoping to bask in his glory.

"I was waiting for eating groupies to show up and none did," he said. "A couple of fat guys shook my hand, though."


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.