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A Full Helping of Competitive Eating in 'Esophagus'

Ever thought you'd broken a world record for eating cheesecake? How about pork ribs, baked beans or pizza? Well, get in line. There is a whole slew of competitive eaters who train and even make a living on the resilience of their stomachs.

In a new book, Horsemen of the Esophagus, Jason Fagone takes a funny-yet-frightening look at some of the world's most accomplished eaters.

The Philadelphia native explored the phenomenon in Japan and across the U.S. -- from the World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship in Venice Beach, Calif., to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, N.Y.

Fagone tells Linda Wertheimer about the history of eating contests, tricks of the trade and a few of the most spirited eaters.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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