Nothing says “summer” like a hot dog eating contest. Hudson Days, a city festival in Hudson, Wis., includes one as a part of its annual festivities. Fortunately for the contestants, they’re not stuck with generic wieners and packs of store-bought buns. Hudson is home to RJ’s Meats, an award-winning meat market that donates its top-quality hot dogs and fresh-baked buns.
This year, the company brought about 200 hot dogs for its contest, which was broken into a children’s and an adult’s category. The contest itself was set for 10 minutes. To start with, every contestant received two of RJ’s hot dogs and water. Once they ate everything on the tray, they raised their hand, and a volunteer quick brought over two more. The contestants could add mustard to their dogs; some of the more hard-core eaters brought their own condiments, like relish and ketchup. The only rule was they had to eat everything in the tray… and keep it down, naturally.
While the contestants chowed down, the announcer attempted to interview the eaters, whenever they had empty mouths. He also made sure to thank RJ’s Meats for their efforts and encouraged onlookers to visit their shop and their 24-7 vending machines that are always loaded with bacon, brats, chicken breasts and other products, kept cool even in the unseasonably hot Wisconsin summer days.
This year’s contest brought would be hot dog champs from across the country, but the winner was a local, James Fields, who has dominated the contest since its inception. Despite the fierce competition, the hot dog king retained his crown for another year, eating 16 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
For the onlookers who wanted to enjoy RJ’s hot dogs without having to beat the clock, they were on sale for $1 apiece following the contest, with all proceeds going to the Hudson Boosters.
RJ’s Meats, operated by Rick and Annie Reams and their sons, Anthony and Joe, is currently expanding into a new location in Minnesota. The historic Schmidt Brewery building in St. Paul is being revitalized as the Keg and Case Market. The Market will be a culinary and retail marketplace, featuring restaurants, seasonal pop-up markets and stands featuring all manner of local foods. One of those booths will be K’Nack (pronounced with a hard “K”), a new venture for RJ’s Meats. Visitors to the Market will be able to stop by the K’Nack booth and enjoy RJ’s small-batch craft sausages and sandwiches. Keg and Case will open later this summer.