"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Behold, the MEAT HIVE!

How awesome does this look? It's a beehive filled with freakin' meat! (Substitute "beehive" with ziti noodles and "freakin' meat" with...meat!). Thanks to Liz for highlighting this work of culinary art. It reminds me of the timpani (or timpano) that Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci make as onscreen brothers in the great movie "Big Night."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'll bet the macaroni & cheese still sucks

To prove once and for all that Vegas is the overindulgence capitol of the world (or at least of the United States), the Las Vegas Hilton has unveiled what is being billed as the world's largest buffet. It boasts over 500 selections - including over 100 desserts - and was christened by none other than...comedian Kathy Griffin? Funny, the first person who came to mind when I thought of the world's largest buffet was Louie Anderson (the large and nasaly-voiced former host of the Family Feud). Coincidentally, on March 17th, big Lou became the newest Sin City headliner with a regular nightly gig at the Excalibur. Survey says!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Greatest Eaters Known to Ink

Personality (and a beach ball-sized stomach) plays a big role in succeeding on the competitive eating circuit. That said, I polled some friends and did some of my own poking around to determine the greatest mega munching personalities – human or otherwise – in the history of comics or cartoons. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some key eaters (or misranked some the greats), so feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions.


Food of Choice: Lasagna

Pound for pound, no Earth-born creature can eat as much in one sitting as Garfield. Being born in an Italian restaurant has given this fat orange cat an insatiable appetite for lasagna, a craving he satisfies by shoveling entire pans of the stuff down his gullet in faster than Kobayashi at ballpark hot dog stand. But it doesn’t stop there. The moment Jon turns his head, cheeseburgers and turkeys vanish. A bowl of cat food? Neighborhood birds? Gone in seconds. Which cuts to the heart of the argument for Garfield’s position at the top of this list. It’s not the quantity of food he eats (which is staggering in itself), but the awesome speed with which he makes it disappear. This otherworldly skill is topped off by an unquenchable addiction to coffee. Now that’s a feline after my own heart – and I’m not a cat person.


Food of Choice: Hamburgers

Besides possessing a phenomenal appetite and a dog named Hot Dog, this Archie Comics star is one of the few members of this list to actually prove himself in a bona-fide competitive eating event. When a rival high school challenged him to a hamburger eating contest against their own undefeated champion, Jughead beat him handily and immediately left the celebration to pursue more hamburgers. In another cartoon, he claimed to have weighed 300 pounds after a particularly massive meal, but burned it off thanks to his awesomely efficient digestive system and metabolism. His love of cuisine has turned him into Riverdale's resident food critic and later inspired him to open his own diner, which can be seen in the Archie spinoff "Jughead's Diner."


Food of Choice: Doughnuts

Homer can’t pass a Krusty Burger drive-thru without ordering up a few double-doubles and when this man spots a plate of doughnuts in the power plant break room, his co-workers can do nothing but stand back and enjoy the show. In one episode, he spent weeks eating an entire giant hoagie long after its expiration date. According to Homer’s Wikipedia entry, the big man’s diet has also included “crab juice, flowers
, Play-Doh, Vaseline, dirt, Legos, pure flour, some novelty plastic lobsters from a salad bar, toxic waste, buttered up bacon, dishwashing liquid, the decorative bride and groom from a wedding cake, fancy soaps, Marge's lipstick, a package of dry gravy mix he found in a parking lot, men's slacks and extremely old baking soda from the family refrigerator.” He’s even been known to clean his family’s dinner plates (even if they’re not quite finished). No wonder Bart, Lisa, and Maggie haven't grown an inch in 17 years.

Food of Choice: Sandwiches

These two are inseparable…sort of like a mega munching tag team. Even when running from ghosts, goblins or creepy lagoon creatures, they still can’t pass a refrigerator without whipping up a three-foot long hoagie. (Scooby gains a slight edge by still having enough room for a few Scooby snacks.) Rumors that the duo’s appetite might be chemically enhanced prevents them from placing higher on this list.


Food of Choice: Massive Sandwiches

If you read my previous post about the world’s largest sandwich, you’ll know that Dagwood Bumstead can whip up a midnight snack in seconds and consume the entire thing before Blondie even realizes he’s left the bed. I wonder what he does to work up such an appetite?

(In an unscientific effort to settle the argument, this site pitted Jughead, Shaggy, and Dagwood against each other in an open debate to determine who’s the biggest eater. I’m not sure Jughead got a fair shake in this one.)


Food of Choice: Assorted picnic fare

No pic-a-nic basket is safe when Yogi is around. Granted, he is a bear, and we assume he’s sharing some of his loot with his little pal Boo Boo, but we’re talking about multiple baskets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Food of Choice: Dots, Ghosts

Though better known for his role in igniting an early-80s video game craze, Pac-Man was also the star of a Saturday morning cartoon series. He’s a deserved member of the mega munching Hall of Fame thanks to a bizarre taste for little white dots and ghosts (which, admittedly, can’t be all that filling). He’s also been known to consume assorted fruit items hidden throughout his maze-like world.


Food of Choice: Cheesy Poofs, Pot Pie

With a doting mother willing to endulge his every whim and culinary desire it’s no wonder Cartman’s “friends” shower him with insults about his weight every chance they get. But it doesn’t matter. Whether he’s eating the skins off an entire bucket of extra crispy fried chicken or locking poor, gullible Butters in a fall out shelter in order to secure a spot at Kyle’s birthday party at Casa Bonita, Eric Cartman always gets the last laugh.


Food of Choice: Spinach

Perhaps no other character is so synonymous with a particular food as Popeye is with spinach (he's even got his own brand of the stuff). With one squeeze, he can sent the contents of an entire can of the green goop shooting into the air and down the chute like a frat boy funneling cheap beer. The salty sailor gets extra kudos for his ability to get millions of kids across the American to at least try the vegetable before wondering why he couldn’t have drawn his super powers from something much tastier, like macaroni and cheese or ice cream sandwiches.


Food of Choice: Hamburgers

Popeye’s friend J. Wellington Wimpy loves burgers, but is either too poor or too cheap to buy them himself (giving rise to his plea, “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”). Like his pal Popeye, Wimpy also has his own brand with a chain of UK hamburger restaurants. His dedication to the world’s best sandwich and his ability to con his way into enjoying so many free meals is what earns him a spot on this hallowed list.


Winnie the Pooh
Food of Choice: Honey by the gallon

Fred Flintstone
Food of Choice: Racks of ribs big enough to tip over a car

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another record-breaking meal for Pennsylvania

While we're on the topic of ginormous food items, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently showcased the newest offering from Mama Lena's Pizza in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks. Dubbed "The Big One" by someone without much imagination, the 3 foot by 4 1/2 foot pie is being hailed as the world's largest commercially-available pizza (yeah, take that, Italy!). At $99 and 150 slices, something tells me this thing will probably only sell on one particular Super Sunday in February.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Now THAT'S a sandwich!

Dagwood Bumstead (of Blondie comics fame) was a mega muncher with an appetite for giant sandwiches. So giant, in fact, that the term "Dagwood Sandwich" (recipe here) has earned a place in Webster's Dictionary. Linda Stradley of WhatsCookingAmerica.net describes the meat and cheese packed snack as "a sandwich put together so as to attain such a tremendous size and infinite variety of contents as to stun the imagination, sight, and stomach of all but the original maker."

In April 2004, a team of
Dagwood wannabes in Mexico City created the world's largest sandwich, a ham and cheese whopper weighing in at 6,991 pounds (though it really doesn't look that heavy). Word on the street is, it took eight men to get the top slice of bread into place. But why are they dressed like they're bracing for an outbreak of the avian flu?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ambien(t) mega munching

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for Ambien. First the popular sleep aid was blamed for a rash of auto accidents after people dozed off or zoned out behind the wheel and now researchers have found that some people on the drug are cooking and consuming entire meals at 2 am and not even realizing it! In the same way that steroids are threatening the integrity of Major League Baseball, could Ambien become the performance enhancing drug-of-choice among professional eaters? Say it ain't so, Takeru! Say it ain't so!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Man eats 400 oysters and lives to write about it!

Here's a long but colorful article written by competitive eating legend, Crazy Legs Conti. It's filled with the same overly-dramatic, tongue-in-cheek, professional wrestling-like language employed by the IFOCE on its website and in its press materials. I've never been a big fan of the tone, but hey, when your signature event is aired live each year on ESPN, you must be doing something right!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Super Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger

The Gateway Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team from Illinois, have unveiled a 1000 calorie concessions treat called "Baseball's Best Burger." The gutbuster with the pitifully uninspiring name is described in a Grizzlies press release as "a thick and juicy burger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon [...] placed in between each side of a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut." So far the stunt seems to be paying off because news of the burger has been lighting up the blogosphere and the story has even appeared on MSNBC and ESPN's Cold Pizza.

But the mastermind behind the sandwich can't take full credit. It's essentially a clone of the Luther Burger from Mulligan's Bar in Decatur, Georgia. As far as I can tell, the Luther Burger first hit the grill some time in early 2005. To further cloud the whodunitfirst mystery, here's a blog entry from way back in April 2003 that talks about two friends having fun with Krispy Kremes the innards of a cheeseburger.

If you're still not completely repulsed (I couldn't be hungrier!) check out this great thread about a guy who cooked up his own version of the freakish burger, complete with photos and detailed taste descriptions.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I hear Chapter 5 is delicious

After being blogged about, written about in newspapers, featured on late night television programs, and even chronicled on an MTV "documentary," competitive eating is finally entering the literary realm with not one, but two books due out in April. Coincidentally (though not surprisingly) the covers of both books feature beauty shots of the sport's signature snack, the hot dog.

The first,
"Eat This Book : A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit" follows Ryan Nerz as he spends 12 months traveling the IFOCE circuit. It should be noted, Nerz was hired by the IFOCE to promote the events from which he draws his experience, so don't expect any juicy exposes or the inside scoop on rampant steroid use. It does, however, feature 30 pages of black and white pics, which is always a plus.

Due out a few weeks later is
"Horsemen of the Esophagus : Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream". Like "Eat This Book," "Horsemen" features interviews with the top eaters in the world, but it appears like it might take a more objective look at what one review calls an "absurd, sometimes troubling subculture." It also comes in hardcover, which makes it more repellant to ketchup and mustard stains.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Back to The Fudd: The 2-Pound Challenge

Not long after our first visit to Fuddruckers, myself and a couple other adventuresome eaters from the office decided to double the stakes by attempting the two-pound challenge. That's two one-pound burger patties between two Frisbee-sized buns. By the way, the proud guy above is me shortly before digging in.

Having already conquered the one-pound burger – sometimes with a pile of steak fries on the side – I knew it wouldn't be a matter of if I’d be able to finish, but if I’d be able to finish before Rick and Beau. They were the two others that decided to join me in the spectacle while about five others, as usual, opted for slightly less caloric options.

Now as much as I love Fuddruckers, one thing I don’t like is that in order to create a two-pound burger you have buy two whole $8 one-pounders. No “add four bucks for an extra patty” option here. But it didn’t matter, we more than made up for it by taking advantage of the one dollar domestic bottles.

So we paid for our orders and gave the cashier our names. As always at The Fudd, after you pay you grab a table and when your meal is ready they call your name over the loudspeaker. In true competitive eater style, Beau went by the name of “Burger Monster” while I opted for the less intimidating “Dave.”

About 20 minutes later, we were drooling over our plates while Burger Monster’s order seemed to be taking a bit longer. Rick and I couldn’t dig in until we were all served, so Beau went to check on his order. Unfortunately, just as the Burger Monster was approaching the counter, the 17-year-old girl behind it was putting the finishing touches on his two massive mushroom and swiss artery cloggers. Grabbing the microphone for probably the 100th time that day, she suddenly stopped short when she saw Burger Monster's name. "Is this you?" she asked. “Yeah, that’s me,” said Beau, “but can you call the name?” She politely refused. “What if I weren’t here?” asked Beau, “What if I walked away? Would you call my name then?” Another refusal. Oh well, the real fun was about to begin.

Actually, the fun was over quicker than I thought. Rick threw in the towel after about 20 minutes with a little less than half of his burger left. It's cool though, because he's a wee fellow of about 5 feet and 90 pounds. Some kind of pituitary thing, I guess. Meanwhile, Beau and I continued chowing down at a leisurely pace. Finally, after a few quick bites when I realized he was getting ahead of me, we finished our last morsels simultaneously. Total time: 36 minutes. And we weren't really trying to eat fast.

The waitress was pretty sure she’d never seen anyone eat a two-pounder before. In fact, she’d never even seen someone attempt it. This confirmation that we were the two biggest pigs she’d ever seen filled us with equal parts pride and embarrassment (with maybe a little bit more embarrassment, but who cares). And just like last time, she honored our amazing feat with two giant ice cream sundaes on the house. Needless to say, we graciously passed our desserts on to our co-workers – but not before grabbing one or two or five bites for ourselves.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A whole loaf of bread in one bite?

Like the Saltine cracker challenge, a similar challenge exists called the Wonderbread challenge. Another clever marketing scheme perhaps, because really any standard sized white bread will do.

The object: Eat two slices of bread in two minutes. No drinks, no butter...just plain ol' untoasted bread. Sounds easy. That's what most people say. The most common first reaction? "I've eaten entire sandwiches in that amount of time!" Maybe so, but they were probably slathered in mayonnaise or strawberry jam (or both). Like the saltine challenge, a little moisture goes a long way.

Here's a link to a great story about a guy who tried to eat a whole loaf of Wonderbread in ONE BITE. Somewhere Dr. Atkins is rolling over in his low-carb grave.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Saltine Challenge

Legend has it, it's impossible to eat six Saltine crackers in 60 seconds. How you attempt it is up to you. You can eat them one a time, two a time, or all six in one bite, but there's no drinking allowed. Many have tried and many have failed. Most are only able to get three down before conceding defeat.

Some say the challenge originated during the depression (not sure what the link is there), but the truth is, the cotton-mouthed dare was inspired by a Nabisco TV advertising campaign from the late 70's. Pretty smart considering it's been a frat house and office lunchroom staple ever since. Maybe Hershey's should run a spot in next year's Super Bowl that challenges people to see how many M&Ms they can shove up their nose. (Oh, you know you want to click it.)

Here's a thread about the Saltine challenge at Snopes.com, including some insight into how they do it in the UK.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

General Tso was a damn good man!

I could eat Chinese food four, maybe five days a week. No problem. And nine times out of ten it would be either beef lo mein or General Tso's chicken. I'm not exactly sure who this General Tso guy is, but I can't get enough of his sweet and spicy breaded poultry.

But as much as I love Chinese food, there's one thing I don't like about it: American-style foods on Chinese food buffets. I know, I know, all the Chinese food on a typical Chinese buffett is "American style," but I'm talking about the wafer-thin plain pizza, the suspect mac & cheese and the shriveled chicken nuggets (they got nothin' on my man G-Tso's nuggets).

I guess the rest of the "Chinese" food on the buffet line is such a
westernized departure from the real thing, the "chef" probably figures, hey why not give french fries and jello a try? I realize they put that junk out there because not everyone (finicky kids) likes Szechuan chicken and crab rangoon, but if these people would just try some of the other stuff on the buffet, they might be surprised. It has to be better than those stale nachos.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Who's hungry?

Pretty much everyone - aside from the occasional Hollywood starlette - likes to eat. And some of us, on occasion, like to push our stomachs past their limit by eating such massive quantities of food that, when finally devored, we swear we'll never eat another (fill in menu item here) for as long as we live. Of course, that promise never lasts.

My own overindulgence of choice is cheeseburgers. Not long ago we took our intern, Ashley (that's her above), to
Fuddruckers for a going away lunch. For those who've never been there, "The Fudd" offers burgers in various sizes, from one-third of a pound all the way up to one whole pound of greasy goodness. They've also got one dollar domestic beers every day, but since it was 12:30 on a Wednesday afternoon I had to abstain from taking part in such a great deal.

Anyhow, we talked her into getting the one-pounder, and just so she wouldn't feel like the only disgusting slob at the table, I got one too. (Most everyone else got puny half-pounders and offered their own lame excuses. "Ooooh, I have to work this afternoon!", "I'm pregnant and have to watch what I eat!", "I'm a vegetarian!" Whatever.) So we piled on our pickles, and lettuce and tomaters at the self-serve toppings bar, grabbed a few diet Cokes (yeah, I know) and dug in. Wouldn't you know it, about 45 minutes later both burgers were gone and a new intern intitiation ritual was born!

The best part was, the waitstaff really got into the whole ordeal and started cheering Ashley on. The cheering section really helped because she was clearly not enjoying the last five or six ounces of that burger. As a "reward" for her gluttonous display a waitress brought over a free giant brownie, ice cream sundae thing. And wouldn't you know it, Ashley still had room for a little dessert before turning over her prize to the rest of the gang. Oh, those
crazy interns!