A human being just age 74 hot dogs—and buns—in ten minutes. Why? Because he could.
That’s the challenge of competitive eating, to see how much of a food you can chow down, as fast as possible, mostly to beat the eaters lined up next to you but also because you thrive on the self-competition. This year’s winner of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut, knows plenty about self-competition—he’s bested himself and the eaters at the table ten times before. People flock to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs in Coney Island, New York, every July 4th to see how many hot dogs and buns Joey’ll pound this time. He’s the most famous competitive eater in the world.
He’s what Shermie Thuff wants to be. <cue the fireworks>
Shermie is the fourteen-year-old guy in my middle grade novel Big Mouth. He aspires to be the best, most famous competitive eater in the world. He trains for it, dreams of it, even imagines his own merchandise and commercials. And you know what they say, If you can picture it, you can do it.
I loved writing this novel. I loved researching the competitive eating world, and I loved the eating I got to do—because if your character wolfs down an ice cream sundae, you should, too, right? Realism, people.
And I love that this book entertains kids. Because when you’re a writer of books for young people, the ultimate reward is your book in the hands of a ravenous reader. For me, that’s a win worthy of fireworks.