Archikulture Digest

Feldman’s Infamous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating C

Feldman’s Infamous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

With Brian Feldman, Zac Alfson, and Caroline Johnson

Brian Feldman Projects

July 4, 2009 at Dandelion Communitea Cafe, Orlando, FL

I hate to promulgate stereotypes, but they WERE playing Morrissey when I arrived at this Vegan restaurant and community hang out. Somehow, that’s appropriate for a contest where people will attempt to chow down and many Vegan Hot dogs as possible in 10 hours. It’s a low impact version of the Famous Nathan’s holiday eating orgy, and the first question that crossed my mind was “What exactly is IN a Vegan Hot dog?” Since regular hot dogs are notoriously made from all the other wise unusable parts of a cow or pig, I assume these are made from the otherwise unusable parts of a soy bean, and they sort of looked that way when they finally arrived. While the dogs were rather suspect the buns were clearly superior to the normal ones – they wrapped around the tube steak and didn’t split when drenched in condiments. But I’m not here to eat; I’m here to capture the cosmic significance of a Vegan pig out.

“Its vegan Hot Dog Eatin Time!”

Like many Feldman Projects, starting times were flexible, and there were more photographers than independent observers. His 11 a.m. start time slid into half past noon, but he argued compellingly that the contest was on-going, but no one had chosen to start eating. Fair enough, as Feldman and crew were pulling out every patriotic chachka that the party store had for sale. Worse, the Tofu Dogs were late as well. These were special dogs, as Dandelion didn’t have the on menu.

“Innovative Hot Dog Buns”

Eventually the food was set in front of the eaters, the eaters actually touched the food, and bites were taken. Slow, agonizing bites, smothered by mustard and catsup and the attitude 3 year olds have toward broccoli. Actually, broccoli would have gone down better as one of the eaters (Caroline Johnson) had had bad reactions to tofu wieners in the past. Master of ceremony Dawn Weleski interviewed contestants and anyone foolish enough make eye contact. She caught me twice, once in at the beginning and once when I returned to watch the final push to victory. She didn’t recall our first encounter, and I’m sympathetic.

“The Feldman 4th of July team”

“Push” is a strong word, and by 9 pm a total of just north of 12 dogs had been consumed. Even that was pretty impressive. The energy of the room was about where I left it at 1 pm, and the unconsumed hot dogs and buns had been transformed into transient art works. There was a count down to T Minus Zero as a heroic Feldman choked down one last dog, and we all sang a patriotic song. I left the café and headed North on Mills. Around an unfinished real estate development, I found a flat place with a view and watched the city fireworks. Somehow, it felt appropriate to the mood of the country and the event. This year everything is smaller, from expectations to results. And soy dogs loom on the horizon for more than a few citizens, but my biggest disappointment was I forgot to buy a pack of fireworks at Publix, but at least I had participated in something new and adventurous.

“Vegan Hot Dog Art”

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit

http://www.brianfeldman.com/

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