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The Expansionist
Monday, June 04, 2007
Grim Assignment for Graphic Artists. We are just over one month from the evil glorification of gluttony known as Nathan's hotdog-eating contest. Let's try to head this off and end that grotesque event once and for all.
A quick survey of information available on the Internet shows that a minimum of 850 million people — 2.8 times as many as the entire population of the United States — are so severely malnourished that their basic health is undercut and they cannot sustain a productive working life. Estimates vary as to how many people die from starvation/chronic malnutrition, but 16,000 a day, mostly children, seems the low end of most approximations. 16,000 a day x 365 days = 5,840,000 people (again, mostly children) who die from starvation each year. Other estimates put the annual toll closer to 9 million, even 15 million. The bulk of those deaths occur in backward nations (the supposedly "developing world" — which never develops, in part because people are too weak from hunger to pull themselves out of poverty), where statistics-gathering is not a high priority for overwhelmed governments.
In the United States, evil slobs promote conspicuous displays of gluttony and waste of food, when millions of people around this planet are dying from want of food. That is inexcusable. The monstrousness of that evil must be brought home to people. Graphic artists can do something toward that end.
Thus do I propose a full-scale assault on all eating contests, starting with Nathan's, the most notorious.
In 2006, 30,000 fans crowded the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island to witness the match-up between Takeru Kobayashi of Japan and Joey Chestnut of California. An additional 1.5 million households tuned in to the contest’s live broadcast on ESPN. Chestnut ate an astounding 52 Nathan’s Hot Dogs and Buns in the 12-minute contest, nearly dethroning Kobayashi who ate 53.75 hot dogs and buns and secured his sixth straight title. * * *
I propose that graphic artists create posters, for hardcopy and Internet, in which 53 hotdog buns hold one starving child each, under this statistic, taken from the Nathan's website:
In 2006, the winner of the Nathan's Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest ate 53.75 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.
The children's images should be authentic, at least as regards a different face in every bun, even if the body, stretched out within the bun, might have to be stylized. Take a few pix of the standing-starving and use those, in slite variations, to show the bodies laid out in the buns, one starving child per bun.
Once such a poster is created, it can be distributed via the Internet, whereby people who want to use it would be able to do so easily, as to post it to a physical or virtual bulletin board, or to make it an enclosure to an indignant letter or an illustration within an outraged email, as to Nathan's (see address below), or the President, or members of Congress, or a local religious leader, or the Pope — or whoever.
A way should be devised on the website (which could be hosted by some anti-hunger organization, or as a free website on, for instance, Yahoo GeoCities with the cooperation of that host in extending as much free bandwidth as might be necessary) whereby people who want a poster-size version to display at a demonstration could print it in sections or take it to a Kinko's to print at poster size. Then they'd be ready to make their presence known at every event leading up to the July 4th obscenity.
The 2007 Nathan’s Famous worldwide hot dog-eating circuit begins on March 24th in Sunrise, Florida [and continues thru] June with over a dozen qualifying contests ... The winner of each qualifying round will receive the right to compete in the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest which, according to archives, has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916. * * *

[Qualifying events will be held:]
June 9
Charlotte, NC

June 16
Mall Of America,
Bloomington, MN

June 16
MacArthur Center Mall
Norfolk, VA

June 22
Molly Pitcher Travel Plaza
Cranbury, NJ

June 23
Zoo Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

June 23
Cinemark Theaters - Century 20
Daly City, CA

June 27
Civil Service
South Street Seaport, NY

June 28
QVC, West Chester, PA
Every eating contest, but specifically every Nathan's qualifying event and the final spectacular, should be mobbed by demonstrators objecting to gluttony in a world of starvation. The reporters and cameras of media covering such events should find themselves surrounded by a sea of protestors holding aloft signs bearing the horrifying statistics about world hunger (from, for instance, the World Food Programme, Bread for the World, or The Hunger Site, one statistic per poster.
If any is available, a billboard near each competition's site should be taken, to show the starving-children-as-hotdogs poster very large, or something similar, like starving children on the right and Nathan's slobs on the left, split-screen style.
Nathan's corporate headquarters (Nathan's Famous Executive Offices, 1400 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY 11590; Phone: 516-338-8500, Fax: 516-338-7220; email, with a poster or without, should go to cs@nathansfamous.com) should be picketed by protestors for at least two full weeks before its contest in obscenity.
New York is the news capital of the United States, so protests at a New York corporation's headquarters 28 miles from Rockefeller Center, and at a contest site 18 miles from Midtown, within New York's city limits, would have a really good chance to generate a lot of coverage.
Protests outside all Nathan's stores, everywhere, and those of its subsidiaries Kenny Rogers Roasters and Miami Subs, might also garner adverse publicity for the slobs.
Altho targeting Nathan's would be the single best thing we could do to draw attention to the obscenity of eating contests in a world of starvation, we should not give other eating contests, nor "food fites" in media — destroying perfectly good food as entertainment! — a free ride. We should encourage condemnation of such events by local newspapers, local and national politicians, and religious leaders of every type anywhere near such an event. Given that Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, it should be easy to get a lot of churches to sign on to a campaign to exterminate eating contests everywhere.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,495 — for Israel.)

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