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

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sometimes when you lose, you really win (or something cheesy like that)

It was a close one, that's for sure. About a dozen eaters crammed the narrow tables for The First Annual Spot Hot Dog Eating Contest in Harrisburg, Pa. The premise was simple: the first to finish their eight dogs was the winner.

Long story short, my brother Jason (competing in his first ever eating event) won the contest by half a dog over Pete Miernicki and a full dog over me. We were pretty much the top three. Sadly, nobody was timing the contest, so I have no idea how speedy we were. For his efforts, Jason won a trophy, a ham and a $50 gift certificate to The Spot.

I learned from my last trial run that the Japanese hot dog eating method (separating the dogs from the buns and eating them separately) does not work well for me, so I invented my own method. Well, I'm not sure I really "invented" it. I'm sure it's been done before, but basically I squeezed the air out of the buns -- compacting them around the dog -- in an attempt to cut down on the overall mass of the bun. I hoped it would also reduce the amount of saliva and water the buns would soak up during the eating process. It worked pretty well. At least better than any other method I've used. Maybe I shouldn't share this secret here, but it was pretty evident from anyone watching that that's what I was doing.

My brother had a different method, though from watching him, you wouldn't think he was doing anything differently than anyone else. He shared his secret with me after the contest and it's such a smart strategy that I won't divulge it here because it's his to tell if he wants to and I want to test it out for myself to see if it truly does work. In theory, it sounds brilliant -- at least for speed contests like this one.

Even though I lost, I have to admit it was pretty cool to see my brother win this event. I might have the competitive eating passion in this family, but he's got all the talent. It'll be interesting to see if he can defend his status as Harrisburg's top eater in next month's Kokomo's Wing Eating Contest. Enjoy the pics below (see the full set

SPOT DOGS - Victory and Defeat
Even though it's blurry, I like this picture because it's a classic example of "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." That's Jason in the background and Pete Miernicki (the second place finisher and a man with four Nathan's Hot Dog Qualifiers under his belt) in the foreground.

SPOT DOGS - At The Spot
Me, Brad, Billy (the owner of The Spot) and Jason. Brad is a co-worker of mine who was going to compete in the event, but was feeling "sick" and backed out. Funny, he doesn't look too sick in this picture, does he?

SPOT DOGS - The Last One
This was all that was left on my plate at the end. My "squeezing technique" is evident here. Yeah, that's a hair in the upper right portion of my plate (click to enlarge). I had to look at that little curly thing the whole time, but I didn't let it slow me down. Come on people, I may not be a pro eater, but at least I've got the heart of one.


Anonymous Philly Guy said...

My mom was keeping loose time and she said it was between 3 and 4 minutes. That wind was doing horrors for my hair.

10:17 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Four minutes?! Wow, it seemed longer than that, but when you're stuffing your face with so much processed meat and sodium, I guess it's bound to seem like an eternity.

10:47 PM

Anonymous wing tut said...

congrats to your brother.

keep it up and I'll see you at a table some time.

what's that wing contest?
I'd love to come match the 'Burgh
versus the other Burg that this state has.

11:56 PM

Blogger steakbellie said...

you'll get your bro next time....

What's the name of that guy who was at Nathans?!?!? He was with me in Philly and QVC and I never caught his name! I vote him the most tenacious eater ever!

1:08 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

It's me Pete Miernicki. I'll be seeing you at the Pizza contest. I need to have a rematch it was just too close and it seems that the format will be wings this time.

2:34 AM

Blogger steakbellie said...

THATS the attitude that I love to compete against. PA is going to make a strong showing at this years Wing Bowl!!!!

11:15 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Well I'm trying to win so I have leverage for WIP to lift the need to be 21 rule they made last year. I turn 20 in a few days and I only got a few months left.

11:33 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Yeah, Pete is hardcore. I admire his drive and willingness to travel to compete (like me). Had my brother and I not had home field advantage, who knows what could've happened.

I'm also looking forward to Wing Bowl (as a half drunken spectator).

7:18 PM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Party at my place in West Philly the night of the pizza contest let me know if you want to come you can stay over. It'd be good for us to bond/relive your college years.

1:38 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

West Philly...should I bring my body armor? Just kidding. It's hard to enjoy your cheesesteak with bullets whizzing by your head.

Anyhow...a party sounds awesome but I've got a hotel and some stuff already lined up in DC after the 3 Brothers contest. Besides, you'd probably school me at beer pong and my former champion ego would be crushed.

But we should definitely meet up sometime. Me and a few fellow mega munchers might be doing a Philly cheesesteak tour between now and whenever, including an obligatory stop at Pats/Genos. If we do -- and you're available -- we can meet up then?

8:10 AM

Blogger Dan said...

Dave... congrats on your success! I don't think we're going to make the pizza contest on the 12th (we've been invited to a big shindig that afternoon and a wedding that night) but we'll be rooting you on in spirit.

Why the photo change? You look like Henry Rollins' angrier younger brother. Why so mad?

And Pete... I'm a Drexel alum (class of 89) and was next to your mom at the crabcake eating competition at the Inner Harbor. I'll be featuring some photos in the next issue of The Hungover Gourmet. Drop me a line if you want copies or want to be interviewed for my story on the contest.

6:36 PM

Blogger steakbellie said...

"Tenacious Pete"

12:29 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Tenacity doesn't seem to be enough to get out of the alternate list for pizza. Kate said it doesn't look good for getting in so I think I may end up in CT. Reguardless, I'll be eating and hopefully we can be at the same table soon.

9:50 AM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Dan - I'm constantly amazed at how small of a world we live in (and it definitely gets smaller when it comes to competitive eating).

You were standing next to Pete's mom at the Baltimore contest and so were Heather and I. Actually she stood on both sides of us (we switched places with her so she could get a better camera angle on Pete). How weird is that?

As for the photo change, I kind of like the intense and smoldering look. Until now, I didn't realize it, but it's sort of inspired by Steakbellie's "guy-in-a-dark-alley-who-tries-to-sell-you-illegal-substances" photo.

11:35 AM

Blogger Dan said...

Jesus, that's just plain weird. And if it hadn't been for a conversation about competitive eating with a complete stranger at a sushi bar I might have never known about Mega Munch. Cue TWILIGHT ZONE theme!

8:47 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Does this mean my mom is the center of the eating universe? If so I should keep convincing her to try it. The Shea's would eat a mother son rivalry up.

11:23 AM

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1:16 AM

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4:29 AM


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