How are two of the top-ranked competitive eaters preparing for the Nathan's Famous Hot Dot Eating Contest on July 4th?

By taking on four of the most grueling challenges Chicago has to offer, of course. Pat Bertoletti and Tim Brown are either the smartest men alive or simply gluttons for punishment. If there's anything that could possibly stretch their stomachs for an extra frank or two next week, it's the four-night gustatory gauntlet they begin on Friday night.

"After a month of eating nothing but hot dogs practicing for the big day I personally welcome the chance to gorge myself with something besides encased meats!" says Brown, the 10th best eater according to Major League Eating rankings.

The Windy City chaos begins at the Fifty/50 Bar where the duo will attempt to take down 50 items off the menu including a 40 oz of Old Style in just 50 minutes. The rest of the challenges are equally daunting. There's the five-pound bacon bomb at Paddy Long's, an eight-pound cheeseburger at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap, and nearly five pounds of sandwiches at Lucky's Wrigleyville.

The good news, if there is any, is that if Brown and Bertoletti are successful, their eat feats will benefit a local charity. Each restaurant has agreed to donate a portion of their evening's sales or a cash prize to the Chicago Food Bank should any of the standing records be broken.

The pair certainly has a good chance. Bertoletti, who goes by the nom de gorge Deep Dish, is the No. 2 ranked eater in MLE. He has his share of records and has been close to taking down the reigning Nathan's champ Joey Chestnut. Plus, he and "Gravy Brown" know each other well having already teamed up on another front. They launched their own food truck recently called Glutton Force Five (http://gluttonforcefive.com/) which they describe as, "somewhere between bad Arnold commando movies from the 80’s and a battered deep-fried cheeseburger at a carnival."

They use the Mobile Eating Recon Vehicle as transportation to take on challenges, and to serve their unique food across the city. It's easy to spot. It looks like the love-child of a short bus and the A-Team van. Chicagoans should keep an eye out for M.E.R.V. over the next handful of nights as Brown and Bertoletti go on their rampage.

"This is either the best or worst idea ever to prep for July 4th. Either way we are jumping in feet first," Brown says. "We will have to tell you once it's over."

-- Adam Watson is the food czar at ThePostGame. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamKWatson.

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