If you ever find yourself in Moose McGillycuddy’s on Front Street in Lahaina, ask if a guy named Fitzy is working. If he is, wait until he’s not too busy, then go up to him, look him in the eye—try not to get distracted by the Boston Red Sox logo he has tattooed on his neck—and shake his hand.
You don’t meet too many guys like Fitzy in life. You don’t meet too many authentic American heroes.
On Sept. 3, 2005, Fitzy won Moose McGillycuddy’s annual hot dog eating contest. It’s fitting the competition took place at Moose’s, because Fitzy works there as a bouncer and busser.
Fitzy dominated the contest from the moment it began. Before a modest crowd of a couple dozen friends, spectators and co-workers wearing giant hot dog hats, Fitzy and a field of five other competitors sat at a long table on the dance floor and ate lots of hot dogs.
By the time the smoke cleared at the end of 15 minutes of regulation competition, Fitzy had shoveled an amazing, remarkable 13 hot dogs down his gullet. That breaks down to nearly one per minute, every minute, for 15 amazing, world record-setting minutes.
“Oh my God!” Fitzy said a few minutes after winning the contest. “Oh my God! That’s so nasty! I can’t even get up!”
Okay, so maybe Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan won the hot dog-eating world record back in 2004 by eating 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes. But then again, he didn’t enter Moose’s contest.
In fact, Takeru Kabayashi was nowhere to be seen when men like Fitzy stepped forward to test their mettle. When Moose’s put out the call a few weeks ago for contestants for its annual hot dog eating contest, Takeru Kobayashi never showed up.
But Fitzy did.
“I wasn’t even going to do it,” Fitzy said after his glorious victory as Moose’s sound system played Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” “I came here to watch the game. I just ate two hot dogs an hour and a half ago. Oh my God, that was so nasty! Oh my God.”
None of the other competitors even came close to Fitzy’s remarkable achievement. Second place went to two entrants who each ate a meager eight dogs.
One participant named Laurie was emblematic of the pack. She came to Moose’s with dreams of taking out the competition “Nathan’s-style”—eating two hot dogs at a time. But she disastrously underestimated the hot dog’s girth and could barely make it through six, all the while watching Fitzy cruise to victory.
Perhaps fittingly, Fitzy was stoic when asked what was his key to his victory.
“I can eat a lot of food,” he said. “I can eat a large pizza and a large sub and really enjoy it. Ohhh… I can’t get up.”
Most of the entrants chose the standard hot dog speed-eating tactic of dunking the dog and bun into a glass of water before biting. The theory is that the water makes the bun all soggy, which then makes the hot dog easier—and quicker—to chew and swallow. Fitzy did this, at first.
“Yeah, the last couple of hot dogs started tasting nasty, so I stopped dunking them in the water,” he said. Then Fitzy rose from the table, shook his head slightly and went to work bussing tables.
Research assistance by Molly Rettig.