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The simple reason why Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contestants dunk hot dogs in water

As if the gluttonous fest that is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest couldn’t get any more grotesque, there’s one thing viewers may have noticed without explanation:

The contestants give their hot dog buns a “bath” during the competition, which to anyone who has eaten a hot dog in a non-competitive setting raises a simple question: Why? 

The answer is simple, and also rather sickening. Hold your stomachs for this one, folks…

MORE: What happens inside an eater’s body after the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

Why are hot dog buns dipped in water during Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

The answer: lubricant.

Yeah, you read that right.

As if eating dozens of logs of processed meat wasn’t enough, contestants take to dunking their hot dog buns in water during the competition.

From there, it’s just science. The water soaks into the dry bread, making it easier to shove down your throat in chunks. It’s like the 2010s, when the saltine cracker challenge was a viral activity on social media. Eat six saltine crackers in a minute and your mouth feels like the Sahara. Imagine how much worse it feels trying to eat 60 or so hot dog buns in 10 minutes.

MORE: Full list of Joey Chestnut’s 55 competitive eating world records

All in all, too much dry food and the throat starts to restrict access to the stomach. Water is a competitive eater’s savior here, as unpalatable as it may be to watch and just think about in general. 

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