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The next frontier for women? Hot-dog eating contests, apparently

Women's contestants Larell Marie Mele, Juliet Lee, Sonya Thomas and Laura Leu pose together after their official weigh-in for Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest during a ceremony at City Hall Park, July 1, 2011 in New York.

Associated Press

In the ongoing march toward women's equality with men, some milestones seem more worthwhile than others.

One that's arguably up for debate: The addition of a women's division in the famous Nathan's Fourth of July hot-dog eating contest on Coney Island in New York.

Yes, women can be just as competitively gluttonous as men. Surprised?

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Forerunner Sonya (The Black Widow) Thomas and nine other women compete Monday, according to ESPN. Ms. Thomas has already set a women's world record by stuffing 41 hot dogs into her 105-pound frame - in 10 minutes.

Putting aside whether or not chowing down a family reunion's worth of hot dogs just like a man is something to strive for, the development has garnered good publicity for the event.

Last year, the contest made headlines because the main rival to world champion Joey Chestnut, Takeru Kobayashi, was arrested after storming the stage. (He'd been banned because he refused to sign an exclusive contract with Major League Eating, the competitive eating equivalent of the NFL, according to ESPN. Kid you not.)

In contrast, this year, the New York Post took four of the top female competitors to high tea at the Plaza.

"It wasn't quite their scene," reported Jeremy Olshan.

"I could eat all of this in two minutes," Ms. Thomas told him, as she surveyed the platters of scones, cucumber sandwiches and pastries. "Maybe one minute."

But he got to know her better: "In fairness, this is a lady who's swallowed 46 dozen oysters and 11 pounds of cheesecake, regularly beating the best male eaters, and is the odds-on favorite to win the $10,000 prize Monday."

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Ms. Thomas also "revealed she swigs nearly half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol before competition."

The women told the reporter that having a women's category makes up for the fact that women just cannot match the men in the stunt-eating realm, due to men's "increased jaw strength."

The paper also pointed out that "unlike the men's main event, only highlights of the women's round will be shown on the ESPN telecast."

So, would you watch? Should women really have aspired to conquer competitive eating?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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