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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

If (when?) I do it over again

After stewing over it for the last 28 hours, I think I've arrived at the order in which I'd eat the Wendy's Dollar Menu foods in the event that I do the whole thing over again.

But before I reveal my strategy, I have to give more credit to Megan than I did in last night's entry. Turns out--and she's really been on me to set the record straight--she actually ate nine-and-a-half of her team's 13 items (not the 8 that I reported previously).

You know, for all of the praise that I heaped on Jenn "The Pizza Princess" in my earlier entries (who, by the way, unofficially announced her retirement from competitive eating to me today), I think Megan might be the true up-and-coming female competitive eater in our office.

That said, here's how I would've done things differently.

The yogurt that I was so sure was a good first round decision was actually not. Judging by how easily the frosty went down late in the contest, I'm guessing the yogurt would've went down just as smoothly. It's a "no chew" food--it's almost a drink!--so the yogurt goes late or even last. Besides, I like yogurt. If you're one of the types that don't, first or early might not be a bad idea.

What doesn't go last is the salad. It's the biggest in size (though obviously not weight), but it requires a lot of chewing, which is hard to do when you're stuffed and feeling slightly naseous. Therefore the salad goes first.

Anyhow, here's the revised list:

1. Chef salad
2. Garden salad

3. Bowl of chili
4. Small drink (Listed here because it's not touched until we reach the sandwiches. Nurse it through the fries.)
5. Crispy chicken sandwich (The first of the four "middle meaty foods.")
6. Cheeseburger
7. Bacon cheeseburger
8. 5-piece chicken nuggets
9. Sour cream and chives baked potato
(This one is tough, it might be better near the top of the list.)
10. Small french fries (Easy to chew into small bits and swallow nearly whole near the end.)
11. Granola yogurt cup
12. Mandarine orange cup (A surprisingly simple food. Squish 'em against the roof of your mouth and drink 'em down.)
13. Chocolate frosty shake (A welcome treat at the end. Besides, you have to save dessert for last!)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The $13 that severely kicked my ass

WENDYS - Getting Mad at the FoodWell, the "Wendy's Dollar Menu Challenge" is in the books and, in the end, it was the damn vegetables that did me in. Stupid salads. (Video here.)

For the contest, it was me and my 13 dollar menu items versus Jenn and Megan who split the 13 items amongst themselves. First to finish wins. Here's what was on our plates:

Granola yogurt cup
Crispy chicken sandwich
Bacon cheeseburger
5-piece chicken nuggets
Small french fries
Mandarine orange cup
Bowl of chili
Small drink
Chocolate frosty shake
Sour cream and chives baked potato
Chef salad
Garden salad

After mentioning something about "extreme abdominal pain," Jenn passed her potato and chocolate frosty to Megan, who stepped up and polished them off at the 30 minute and 30 second mark, leaving me with two salads virtually untouched and half a baked potato. I have to give huge props to Megan. I think she ate about 8 of her team's 13 items and really pushed through the pain and discomfort for the win.

The items are listed in the order in which I attempted to eat them. The yogurt was definitely a good idea to eat first. I should've polished off the chili second, because by the time I got to it, I was in no mood to eat that cold, chunky bowl of crap. I ended up pouring half of it on my baked potato, but that worked only somewhat. The small diet Coke was gone somewhere near the beginning of the potato, leaving me with a very melted frosty to wash the remainder of the meal down. The frosty also worked as a palate cleanser, especially while eating the chili.

WENDYS - You Gonna Eat ThatOverall it was kind of a disappointing showing (for me). The story that inspired this contest came from these seven college guys, who attempted a similar challenge with the goal of finishing 11 Burger King dollar menu items in one hour. Only three of the seven were able to get the job done. With 30 minutes left, I like to think I'd be able to get those salads down, but who knows.

One thing that was interesting about this contest was the constantly changing variety of flavors and textures of food. Typical eating contests involve one food, which usually loses its taste (that can be a good thing) around the five or six minute mark. That wasn't the case here. Also, I'm still feeling rather uncomfortable even though two hours have passed since the contest ended. Must be due to the "fast foodiness" of it all.

Actually, laying down right about now might be a good thing. A full set of pictures can be seen here. Don't forget to check out "the many faces of Megan."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who am I to back down from a fast food challenge?

You may remember my pizza eating challenge with my co-worker Jennifer "The Pizza Princess" (Last Name Withheld for Fear of Being Googled). Well, tomorrow's her last day at the agency and we're sending her off with dinner and a night of drinks on the town.

In this case, some co-workers thought it would fun if "dinner" consisted of an eating challenge at Wendy's. The contest is simple: whoever eats all 13 items on the Wendy's dollar menu the fastest is the winner. There's talk of eliminating the two side salads and the baked potato, but as a purist, I might keep them on my plate. I'm still not sure how many people are actually participating (4 confirmed) and how many are just watching (at least 10 others).

Tonight I'll scrutinize the menu to determine the best order in which to eat the foods. When the hell do you eat the yogurt? I'm thinking first. I'm also not sure if the small drink is the only drink we get.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mmmm...new links

I've added a few more blogs to my list of "Mega Munching Blogs." These are great websites and definitely worth at least a once-over:

The Foodie Fashionista -- Just a girl with a slightly raunchy sense of humor who loves food and competitive eating. She's also obsessed with Pat Bertoletti and her own cleavage, which is always a good thing.

Iron Stomach -- This is Gustad's blog. I've referenced him in the past and finally added him because he not only eats like a horse, but he can cook too. Check out his method for eating pizza at work.

Weird Meat -- I just stumbled onto this blog today and knew just from the description that it was going to be awesome. Basically, the guy travels the world and goes out of his way to eat all kinds of animals and then blogs about them. He also gets great photos of the animals (sometimes living, usually prepared). The picture on the right is from his recent attempt to create a Cantonese soup prized for its medicinal value. Yeah, those are sea horses.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A big man who will leave a big void

badlandsYesterday, the competitive eating world learned that Eric "Badlands" Booker has retired from the sport he helped put on the map. (Once it hits the IFOCE website, it's pretty much official.)

This is the man who once ate 49 glazed doughnuts in 8 minutes and nine-and-a-half pounds of peas in. . .actually, does it really matter how long it took him? He's also the
man whose larger-than-life mug is immortalized going face-to-face with Kobayashi on the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Contest countdown on Coney Island.

But his is not a sad retirement like Lou Gehrig. Nor did he hang on too long or fizzle out like Jerry Rice. And let's hope he doesn't attempt a series of half-hearted comebacks like Michael Jordan (though Badlands is incapable of doing anything half-heartedly, so we'd welcome him with open arms and full plates if he did decide to come back for seconds).

No, he did it on his own terms and, not surprisingly, he's still doing something he loves. As most people know, Badlands is not only a New York City subway conductor, he’s also an accomplished rapper, with two albums under his large belt. He's even got a protégé and a posse and he's probably got Diddy and Jay Z on his speed dial. Let's just say the man has the potential to be bigger and more successful in retirement than he was as a sportsman (which is no small feat considering the laundry list
of eating records he holds).

My personal favorite Badlands rap is "The Sweet Science of Competitive Eating," probably because it's played at every IFOCE event and it brings back lots of memories every time I hear it. Check it out
here. It should also be noted, that Badlands' catch phrase and the title of his first album -- "Hungry & Focused" -- has become part of the competitive eating lexicon and probably will for as long as the sport lives. ("How ya feeling today Crazy Legs?" "Hungry and focused, man, hungry and focused.")

Badlands even left his options open to be involved with the IFOCE on a higher level. Maybe a position in the front office or a coaching role on the circuit. Who knows. I'm a little sad because I never got a chance to see him eat competitively. I've met him and I've seen him rap several times, but to see him at the table would have been incredible. To compete against him. . .well, that would've been the highlight of my very young career.

NATHANS - Cookie and BadlandsHe's not the only big man with a big legacy to hang up his fork and knife this year. At the Nathan's contest, Cookie Jarvis announced the end of his competitive eating career and cemented his place in gurgitory history as one of the all time greats. I was lucky enough to have a front row "seat" that day on Coney Island and captured this photo of Cookie and Badlands swapping stories.

There's no doubt these two legends of the buffet will be missed. Lets just hope the young talent on the circuit was taking notes while these guys were wrapping up their careers, because sometimes the hardest thing in competitive eating isn't eating more than the old pros, it's filling their shoes after they've left the table.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mega munching celebrities!

Found this great website composed of nothing but paparazzi photos of celebrities stuffing their faces. Appropriately, the site is called Celebrities-Eating.com. My favorite is the shot of Nicole Richie going to town on a corn dog (at left).

At the risk of revealing my slightly immature side, I must admit that normally the sight of a woman eating a phallus-shaped food is a little -- how do you say? -- interesting. But in this case? Not so much. (Okay, maybe a little.) It's actually one of several photos on the site of Richie stuffing her face. Mind blowing, I know.

Don't miss the shot of
Mike Tyson tearin' up a salad or Heidi Klum and Hugh Hefner chowin' down on giant burgers. There's even a picture of Badlands Booker getting ready to wreak havoc on some wings. I'll bet that paparazzi thought he'd never get a picture of Badlands eating, but he waited in the bushes like a trooper and finally got one.

By the way, avoid the random picture of Keanu Reeves suffering a reversal of fortune.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why I'd make a shitty zoo keeper

I was at a party after the wing contest a few nights ago and struck up a conversation with a vegematarian. Later I got to thinking about all the animals I’ve eaten in my 28 years and how good most of them tasted. Below is that list (also inspired by a post on Gustad’s blog, Iron Stomach). I'm sure I'm missing a few items, but it's a start.

Cornish hen
Crayfish (a.k.a. crawdad)
Fish (many species)
Snapping turtle
Veal (but not recently)
Worm (many species)

For anyone looking to sample these meats (any many others), check out this UK website appropriately titled “Alternative Meats.” The “Safari Selection” makes me hungry. Mmmm, impala burgers!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Clean like this!"

Finally. In my fifth contest, I get my first title -- the Kokomo Wing Eating Champion of Harrisburg -- and my first winnings (a $25.00 gift certificate to Kokomos).

I won by a single wing. It was a roller coaster contest because two other guys finished before me, but their bones were FAR from clean and were ordered by the judges to get 'em "clean like this" (as the judges pointed to my scraps). After looking at their debris, I had to agree. On some you could barely see the bone through all the meat still left on it. Pistol Pete "Philly Guy" Miernicky also made it out for the competition and came in a very close second.

It was a tough contest too. At one point, I dropped a wing on the sidewalk and, without thinking twice, had to pick it up and continue eating. I was hoping for a collective moan from the crowd, but I didn't get it. It was also tough because after the first two guys finished, my adrenaline levels plumetted (at least for a few seconds) as I conceded defeat, only to shoot back up again when they were told their bones were way too meaty. Twice that happened, but maybe the resurgence of adrenaline when I realized I was still in it actually helped me. Sorta like a turbo boost.

A full set of pictures from the event can be seen

I need a slow IV drip of toffee, STAT!

This is what happens when work and play collide. I was doing some research about one of our clients and found this website that features various world record setting meals. Most of them are "world's largest" type creations, like the world's largest box of chocolates, world's largest ice cream cake or the world's largest bowl of dip (by our client, Friendship Dairies).

The lead story on the same website (junkfoodnews.net) is about Haagen-Dazs' new "Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream." The Haagen-Dazs site describes the flavor as "rich vanilla ice cream swirled with a sticky toffee sauce and morsels of moist, brown sugar cake."

Damn, I'm hungry. I can't wait for the wing contest.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Nothing to see here, folks

Looks like the folks at Krystal -- or at least one of them -- had a comment about one of my earlier posts. Sorry about the miscommunication. (Really, I am!) As a pseudo-journalist in real life, I struggled with the line in question but left it in because, like Krystal blogger Tiffany says, I assumed people would sense the "made up-edness" of it. I'm pretty sure Mr. Williams did too, but he's just doing his job.

In the end I think it'll be okay, and I'm flattered that a corporate suit read my little blog and it inspired some "conversation." Although, in my defense, the actual quote was "Suck on that, Nathans!" not "Suck it, Nathans!"

I think there's a difference, don't you agree?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's official: I'm a wing man!

Did a speed run of two dozen wings tonight in preparation for Saturday's Kokomo Wing Contest here in downtown Harrisburg. Heather said it was without a doubt the most disgusting practice run she's ever seen me do. Aside from looking like a Dawn of the Dead zombie who's just discovered the joys of devouring human entrails, I didn't think it was all that disgusting.

I also had a dozen wings for lunch on Tuesday, but not for speed. (Other than contests, I try to avoid eating for speed in public, except when at least two other people I'm with are also doing it. . .which I guess makes it a "contest.")

I'm ashamed to admit it, but it was the first time in my life I'd eaten a dozen wings. I guess I never really considered myself a "wing man." There's something about the floppy, raw-textured skin that I always found -- how do you say? -- disgusting. Blame it on one or two bad experiences with some cheap grocery store wings, I guess.

But these wings were very different. For one, they seemed cooked, but they also tasted like little pieces of heaven soaked in a garlicky, spicy barbecue sauce. Needless to say, I think I'll be eating wings more often.

Pete "Philly Guy" Miernicky will be coming to town for the contest. He also came for the Spot Dog Contest last month. In a comment on this blog he stated that his goal is two minutes and anything more than two minutes -- even if he wins -- will be considered a personal loss. After tonight's trial, I can attest that 24 wings in two minutes is friggin' blazing fast, but I think I can give him a run for his money.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A little more pizza

Just remembered a few more things about the Three Brothers Pizza contest and thought I’d pass it along. After the event, Pat Bertoletti, Krista, Heather and I went down to the Three Brothers restaurant at the far end of the mall to pick up Pat's giant check which had been taken back there after the awards ceremony.

During this time, the Director of Marketing for Three Brothers (or maybe it was one of the Three Brothers themselves – they were also there) mentioned that they'd definitely like to sponsor the pizza eating competition next year and that they’d like see the contest expanded to include a series of 15 qualifying rounds to determine the participants in the main event. The thinking is that with 15 Three Brothers restaurants in the DC region, each location would host an event. That would make the Three Brothers Contest only the third IFOCE event to include a qualifying round (with Nathan’s and the Krystal Square Off).

I also have to give credit to the entire Three Brothers staff. Of all the events I’ve been to (with the possible exception of the Spot Hot Dog contest held here in Harrisburg), they were by far the proudest and most excited sponsors I’ve seen. They were so happy to be hosting an IFOCE event and it showed. The three Repole brothers – Michael, Mario, and Peter – were all smiles the entire day and so were their families. Of course, the fact that the contest was also a celebration of the restaurant’s 30th anniversary might also have something to do with it, but they were classy nonetheless.

Speaking of classy, I have to give it up for Humble Bob (even though, as his name suggests, he probably doesn’t want me to). As the 17th eater to be announced, he didn’t just go his spot at the table and bump fists with the guy next to him. No, Bob took the stage and walked the entire length of the table, shaking hands with each of the eaters and wishing them good luck before humbly kicking their asses by downing 15 slices to take third place. A true sportsman if there ever was one!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Large cheese pizza with extra controversy at Three Brothers contest

PIZZA - Pat the Loser This picture says it all. Sort of, at least. Pat Philbin is definitely no loser (ranked #10 in the world), but on Saturday he was a winner -- for about 30 seconds -- and then saw his fourth place finish stripped away.

We had all exited the stage after the Three Brothers International Pizza Eating Championship in Greenbelt, Maryland while they counted up the damage that the 18 eaters had done. But they'd counted too fast and before they'd realized it, Pat had already been called on stage as the #4 finisher. With his plaque and $250 check in hand, they realized their mistake so they took back the prizes and recounted. Unfortunately Pat wasn't in the top four after the recount, but he took it like a champ by having one of the mall face painting ladies brand him appropriately.

After the dust had settled,
Pat Bertoletti (who came in as the odds on favorite) won it with 19 slices in 10 minutes to win the $2,500 prize. He was followed by Chip Simpson with 16 1/2 slices ($1,500), Bob Shoudt (15 slices, $750) and Larry McNeil (13 slices, $250). For the record, I ate 8 slices. A no-dunking rule was in effect, but to make up for it, they made crusts optional. The catch, of course, was that every four crusts would discount one slice from your total. So, if you ate your entire 8-slice pie but left the crusts, you would be credited with 6 slices.

All in all, it was a great contest. Even though it was in her own backyard, Sonya was not there. She was in Hong Kong where she would win a lotus seed bun eating competition by dowing 17 in 12 minutes (that's a helluva feat. . .those lotus seed buns are a bitch!). However, lots of other great ranked eaters were in attendance, including some good representation from Pennsylvania (myself, Steakbellie, Pete Miernicky, Bob Shoudt and Brian Subich. Chip Simpson -- from Florida, but goes to Slippery Rock U. in Pa. -- was also there.)

The mall was a little weird though. By weird, I mean kind of crappy. Heather and I got there at about 11 am to do some shopping (eaters were told to report at 1 pm for a 2 pm contest). Only problem is, there wasn't much shopping to be done. I went upstairs thinking all the cool stores were up there, but the only thing on the second floor was a Value City. The mall did have a Gold's Gym and a seedy lingerie shop with a nice selection of, er, lotions. There was a wig shop too. I went in there looking for something to make an Italian-style handlebar mustache out of to wear during the contest, but I didn't have any luck.

All in all, the pizza was pretty good as far as mall pizza is concerned. Very cheesy with thick sauce, warm and soft throughout. This was the first contest I've ever been in (pro or amateur) in which jaw strength came into play. At about the five minute mark, my jaw started aching from all the tiny, corn-on-the-cob-like bites and chewing I was doing. My pace slowed down after I hit the 6-minute wall which allowed my jaw to recoup, but others -- like Bertoletti -- commented afterward about sore jaws. Below is a shot of Bertoletti signing for some fans after the show.

PIZZA - Bertoletti signing 2
After the crowd dispursed and the eaters had said their goodbyes, Heather, Krista (of Urban Honking fame), Pat Bertoletti and I piled into my car and headed into D.C. where Krista's sister, Celia, was celebrating her birthday. Cramming Pat's giant check and three-foot trophy into my Oldsmobile Alero was a challenge, but we managed (hint, neither the trophy nor the check would fit in my trunk).

During the trip we talked about our guilty pleasures when it comes to music and Pat -- a man with a love of punk rock (whodathunkit?) and a bunch of other bands I've never heard of -- revealed who he keeps buried deep within his iPod. I won't divulge it here except to say that she kinda rocks. . .at least more than her sister.

Liz (also from Urban Honking) and her husband J met us at the party. The affair consisted of lots of beer, lesbians, a highly contested scavenger hunt and plenty of meat on a stick. In other words, it rocked.

A full set of photos from the contest can be seen here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

FOOD PORN III: 360 degrees of flame broiled goodness

I don't know what the purpose of this video is, but it's 64 seconds of beautiful burger footage and it makes me hungry as hell. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Raising aspiring competitive eaters ain't easy

Heather and I were watching the Johnsonville Brat Eating Contest today on TiVo when she (once again) raised her concern about children watching competitive eating events. Basically she thinks they shouldn't.

The result, says Heather, is that kids who see adults stuffing their faces will think it's okay to stuff their own faces and from there it's a slippery slope toward obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and four years of high school without a date.

I disagreed. Not because I knew lots of fat guys in high school who enjoyed healthy social lives, but because I think kids can watch competitive eating events and not be confused about why these people are able to eat a week's worth of calories in one sitting and still have washboard abs. Granted, it will take a conversation between the parent and the child to help explain how that's possible, but it can be done.

In parenting circles (of which I'm outside of), times like those are called "teachable moments." Supposedly we're surrounded by them. Watching TV, shopping for groceries, knockin' back a few at a strip club, even watching a local wing eating contest -- teachable moments are pretty much everywhere.

Then it hit me. My entire argument rested on a actual conversation between the parent and the child. That only happens on The Cosby Show, right?

How many of the 1,000,000 people who watched the Nathan's contest at home were watching with their kids? And how many of those parents took the time to talk to their children afterwards about the awesome feat they had just witnessed and how it is not indicative of real life eating habits? (Not to mention the body image issues the kids will struggle with after seeing Kobayashi flex like he'd just eaten a side of bovine steroid laden beef.) One in five? One in ten? One in. . .oh hell, who wants another burger?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The first burger story that didn't make me hungry

Thanks to A Hamburger Today for breaking this story to me first. If I'm going to get sad, burger-related news, I'd rather it be from him than anyone else.

"Esther Snyder, who with her late husband Harry co-founded In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park in 1948 and popularized the drive-through window for the fast-food industry, has died. She was 86. Snyder, who had succeeded her husband and two sons as head of the family business, died Friday, according to an announcement from the company. Neither the cause nor the place of death was announced."

LA Times has a very nice obituary about Esther. She'll be missed, I'm sure. And if I could (and I can't because I live on the damn East Coast), I'd raise an 8x8 in her honor.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

More Moose Tracks on the Appalachian Trail

Just got back from another campout at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park. In an earlier post, I noted that the park marks the halfway point on the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail and, after about three months on the trail, hikers would stop at the Park's tiny log cabin store and attempt to eat a half-gallon of ice cream. Though most hikers ate their ice cream at a leisurely pace, the "half gallon challenge" eventually turned into a speed eating contest.

On June 13, four days after my initial visit, someone shattered the four-and-a-half minute mark by downing a half gallon in just two minutes and 37 seconds. (The IFOCE record is 1.75 gallons in 8 minutes by Patrick Bertoletti.) But as insane as that feat may seem, the hiker's friend -- a shaggy haired, scraggly bearded and probably slightly smelly man -- did something even more amazing.

Shaggy ate a half gallon of ice cream and three hot dogs (how long it took is not important). Then he came back about 30 minutes later and did the same thing. About an hour later he returned -- and did it again. Two hours, three half-gallons of ice cream, nine hot dogs. And 1,070 more miles to go.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Krystal Square Off gets all technical on your ass

The folks at Krystal (the South's version of the White Castle burger) have announced that if you can't make it to any of the qualifying rounds for this year's Krystal Square Off hamburger eating contest, they'll bring them to you live via webcast. That's right, all 157 two-minute qualifiers, eight local finals and the championship contest on October 28 will be streamed as they happen at the Krystal website. The news was broken via the company's blog on Wednesday. Said an exuberant Krystal Vice President of Marketing, Mike Williams, "Yeah! Suck on that, Nathans!"

I'm not sure which is more surprising; that they'll broadcast all 157 qualifiers, or that there's 157 qualifiers.
As many of us know, on July 18 Joey Chestnut anihilated the two-minute Krystal record by eating 28 of the greasy little suckers at the press conference held to announce the qualifying circuit. Check out the video here. Bonus points to George Shea for working references to Henry Ford and Tchaikovsky within the first 60 seconds of Chestnut's attempt.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jersey high school starts competitive eating club!

While "shifting gears" today at work, I stumbled onto this story about a "Competitive Eating Club" that was created (and is thriving) at a New Jersey high school. I was so excited to read the rest of the article and blog all about it that I forwarded the link to myself so I could finish reading it at home and herald it as a significant if not slightly strange and controversial breakthrough in the spread of competitive eating in our culture.

But alas, it was a false alarm. Turns out the club doesn't exist and neither does Midvale High School -- at least not in New Jersey. The story is an example of faux journalism in the same vein as the always hilarious and perfect for bathroom reading, The Onion. (Ironically, today's lead story at The Onion is about how meat is America's #2 condiment. Hells yeah!)

I realized that about midway through the story that it was a fake. Right about the point where the author talked about the club being sponsored by local food merchants and the school's cafeteria now boasted a sign that reads "Hoagie Shack Presents Hoagieland Hall."

Oh well, you can still read about it here.