by Ian Froeb
As promised, Gut Check dispatched RFT crack reporter Unreal to check in on ToastedRav.com's Tour de Frankfurter, currently in progress.
Three men eat one hot dog, every hour, for 24 hours. It was a fea(s)t that no man had ever attempted. A hot diggity dawg of an adventure, captured on film and called the Tour de Frankfurter.
So it was that Mike Flynn, Mike Merenda and Chris Files, of ToastedRav.com, showed up on 9/11 in the Loop in a loaned Hummer, its windows painted with the most earnest of mottos, "I LOVE WEENIES." They arrived at 1 p.m. for dog number-six, having already scratched Courtesy Diner, Denny's and Gus's Pretzels off their foot-long list.
At Gingham's Homestyle Restaurant, they'd consumed a 1/3-pound hot dog slathered with bacon and American cheese atop a buttered hoagie bun. At Carl's Drive-In they ate a fried dog scored and presented in a circular fashion, condiments in the middle. Later they would plug an actual "Hot Dog Toaster" into the Hummer's cigarette lighter and do the road-dog. But that wouldn't be 'til 4 a.m. We're getting ahead of ourselves.
Unreal arrived for our appointed rendezvous -- at Pam's Chicago Style Dogs -- a few minutes early, ready to do some intestinal damage. That was, until we saw Pam's food handlers, hot dog cookers, whatever you call them, enjoying a cigarette break right outside the front door to the restaurant. Not cool. Not appetizing. Fuckin' disgusting.
Flynn, Merenda and Files, though, weren't discouraged. They were already plenty nauseous. The buns were giving them trouble.
Frankfurter aficionados well know that the king of competitive hot dog eating, Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi, wets the bread so it slithers down the esophagus. "He's all about quantity, though," says Files. "We're all about longevity and endurance."
The dudes saddle up to the Pam's counter for a Chicago-style dog replete with pickles, tomatoes, onions and, as Files puts it, "glow-in-the-dark relish." (To Unreal, the shit just resembles jello.) Flynn takes his first bite -- gingerly. Merenda scrapes off half the fillings and digs in. Files focuses on the camera and gobbles, gobbles, gobbles.
The guys are quiet -- solemn, you might say -- eaters. Asked about the significance of their Tour falling on 9/11, Merenda quips, "We're taking this day back!"
A moment later, Merenda turns red in the face. On the universal I'm-about-to-vomit scale, he's suddenly peaking at eight out of ten. They'll have to make another stop for Rolaids. "He almost made us late to the last stop," Files gripes.
Did they, um, happen to bring a change of pants, just in case? "Damn," says a crestfallen Flynn. "I live right around the corner; we better stop there."
Photo courtesy ToastedRav.com