Sandwiched between the Ronnie Milsap and Gary Allan concerts at Chevy Court on Aug. 26, 110 Hofmann hot dogs met their waterloo in a mere 10 minutes at the hands, gob and gullet of Takeru Kobayashi. The world champion eater was looking for another food conquest to accompany recent victories that included the wolfing down of 106 soft tacos during the same time frame. And what better place to make that man vs. wiener stand than at the New York State Fair, home to gustatory pleasures both traditional (a good old baked potato) and way, way out (deep-fried whatevers)?
It helped that Kobayashi is now a business partner and “brand ambassador” with the Hofmann Sausage Company, which has a red, white and blue tent set up near Gate 2’s cattle building. Hofmann wants to go national with the tasty wares that generations of in-the-know Central New Yorkers have devoured over the decades (and let’s hope that the business continues to make sausages right here), and a Kobayashi cross-promotion fits right in with that game plan. After all, Kobayashi, nicknamed Ko-B, will soon be spreading the word about Hofmann products at the Texas State Fair held in Dallas, and he’ll be carrying that new hot-dog eating record with him.
WSEN morning-drive deejay Gary Dunes presided over the event, as he delivered clichés like “History is in the making!” to a Chevy Court mix of hot dog aficionados as well as confused bench-sitters who were waiting for the 8 p.m. Gary Allan concert and unaware of the Ko-B showdown. Beaming Hofmann investors and stockholders were introduced, including the Turning Stone Resort and Casino’s Ray Halbritter, Hofmann mainstay Rusty Flook and CEO Frank Zaccanelli, and Fuddruckers impresario Phil Romano, with Syracuse University hoops legend Dwayne “Pearl” Washington as official counter and eye candy Becky Wood as stage counter. Ko-B himself made his entrance through the crowd (he was apparently hanging out near the sound tower) and onto the stage, with more color commentary from Dunes (“Concentration is most important to Ko-B!”) as the munch-master calmly filled a number of water glasses for the main event.
When the official Hofmann chef, dubbed simply “Chef Frank,” brought out trays of 10 bunless hot dogs for consumption, the race was on, accompanied by music clips from the singles “Eye of the Tiger,” “We Are the Champions” and “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough.” The eating machine quickly grabbed handfuls of hot dogs and went into stuffing mode, stopping only to slug back gulps of H2O to wash down the franks and performing occasional shimmies of his elastic tummy in an effort to keep those Hofmanns sliding into his digestive tract.
Ten minutes later, the wiener-weary Kobayashi established yet another record, although Washington provided an odd touch when he slapped Ko-B’s protruding belly (geez, Pearl, why didn’t you take him on the Tilt-a-Whirl afterward?). A press conference at the nearby Hofmann tent featured Kobayashi answering a number of questions through an interpreter, as well as some trash-talking from Zaccanelli regarding hot-dog eating rival Joey Chestnut and his recent victory at the annual July 4 Nathan’s contest at Coney Island. “He’s been running from Ko-B for the last few years,” said Zaccanelli as he threw down the gauntlet. Still, one sidelines Fair staffer made this cogent observation about Kobayashi’s feat: “If he had mustard, he coulda ate another 10.”