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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hot dogs and mass reversals

Round 1 - With my 10 dogsJust got back from the Lancaster hot dog contest. I've got some soul searching to do about my future in competitive eating, because I pretty much sucked. First place and $500 went to Sean Gordon from Philly (he and I competed in the shoo fly contest in Lancaster earlier this year). Sean ate 13 and a half dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Some guy from Pittsburgh took second place ($250) with 13 dogs and third place ($100 and a guy with more piercings than dogs eaten) ate 10 and a half.

I ate 9 and a half. NINE AND ONE STINKIN' HALF. Pathetic.

It was my first time ever eating hot dogs for an extended period of time. I was hoping for somewhere between 12 and 15 in 10 minutes, but I fell short. If I'd hit my goal I might be $500 richer. If I'd bothered to practice or run some stretching exercises in the days and weeks beforehand, I might be $500 richer. I can keep beating myself up, but I won't.

All in all, it was a fun event. There were 19 total competitors, which they split up into three separate 10 minute contests. I was in the first round. Every round had a least on "reversal of fortune," either during the contest or immediately after. Unfortunately, there was only one puke bucket, but there was plenty of grass behind the table.
Round 2 - Showing off the barf
The guy in the photo at right was eating next to a guy who suffered a reversal during the second contest. He started to heave around the 7 minute mark and his hand went up to his mouth. Unfortunately, he couldn't stop the flow as a fountain of hot dog chunks spewed from under his hand and all over this guy's shirt. Yeah, nasty.

I've never seen so many reversals in a contest before (five of the 19 competitors). I have a feeling the combination of large prize money and amateur eaters pushing themselves too hard probably had something to do with it. The crappy hot dogs didn't help either. No taste whatsoever.

Round 1 - Me and the Drill SeargentFor this contest I tried using some music to get me pumped up (a little Rob Zombie and Pantera). It was a good thing too, because the contest organizer was yelling in everyone's ear like a drill seargent. "How bad do you want that $500?! Do you want it?! DO YOU WANT IT?!" Yeah, a little annoying. I survived boot camp once (Navy), and was in no mood to relive it. But he was cool otherwise. That's him screaming at someone over my shoulder on the left.

Enjoy more pictures here, including a few of a guy who called himself Ryan "The Gutworm" Miller. He had his own t-shirt made up for the contest and brought a small cheering section (complete with signs). It was his first ever eating event. I talked to him beforehand and he claimed to have never even heard of the IFOCE, even though he's doing a pretty good impression of Eric the Red with his red headbands and arm bands.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Push it. Push it good.

steakbellieSteakbellie, a fellow charter member of the UEPa (the United Eaters of Pennsylvania), will be competing in the Memphis Krystal Square Off qualifier this Sunday. His goal is to either win it (and clinch a spot in the Krystal Square Off main event on October 28 to compete for a $30,000 cash purse) or finish with a high enough total to earn a wild card spot (the top four non-winning eaters from the qualifying matches go to the finals).

He's been training like a madman. He's hungry, he's focused, he's wearing a kilt and he deserves a spot in the finals more than just about anyone I know.

In his most recent post, he reflects on who his competition will be and how he'll have to push himself harder than he has in any of his training runs to reach his goal total for the contest. He'll need to down 35 to 40 of the small, square burgers in 8 minutes to have a chance at the wild card. Watch him do it this Sunday on the live Krystal webcam.

Pushing yourself to the brink of "reversal" during a contest is tough. A massive adrenaline rush and aching physical hunger causes us to fill our stomachs to near 50 percent capacity during the first two minutes of a contest. Then your brain starts telling you slow down.

So you do.

Or, if you're good at telling your brain to go screw itself, you don't. By the halfway point, your stomach is at 75 to 80 percent. At least mine is. Or at least it feels that way.

That's when the pushing gets tough. Your brain isn't just talking to you, it's SCREAMING. Screaming not only for you to slow down, but to stop. "Stop eating you dumb sonafabitch! Stop or I'll push this shit right back out the hole from whence it came and then you'll be sorry! You'll be...what the hell are you doing?! STOP EATING NOW!!"

So you keep eating.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Finger forks. Finally.

I'm trying to figure out if these things are awesome or just kind of stupid. Being a competitive eater, I'm coming down on the side of awesome. Being NOT a competitive eater, Heather thinks they're stupid. Whatever.

I mean, hello...they're forks. For your fingers. Next time we're at the Chinese buffet I'll be rocking two of these things on each hand and eating so much more efficiently than she ever could with her regular, hand-held fork. Plus, with one on my pointer finger and one on my middle finger, when I really get 'em going they'll be rubbing against each other and making that cool "Shing! Shing! Shing!" sound. Yeah, awesome.

You think Freddy Krueger had it made with his razor sharp finger knives? Nope. Ever try eating with a knife? Not pretty. Edward Scissorhands? Lame.

I was at a cocktail hour social thing last week in Philadelphia and the whore derves guy was making his rounds with the tiny crab cakes. I felt weird just reaching onto the plate with my nasty, just-shook-ten-hands fingers and then eating with those same grubby mitts. But imagine if I had finger forks. Clean, awesome and a nifty little conversation starter. I'd just have to remember to take them off before I started shaking hands again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Whaddya mean they don't come with Canadian bacon?

You may remember those crazy Canadian guys I wrote about -- Tanker, Splash and the gang -- who were driving 16 hours to sample some of the largest burgers on the planet (right here in Pennsylvania). Well, they made it. Read all about it here.

Below is a shot of some of them with Denny's 6-pound burger -- I think. As you'll read, four of them got the two pound burger and one of them got the six-pounder. I can never friggin' tell the difference with Denny's burgers. Check out the pictures and judge for yourself. In the picture here, the burger is wearing a top hat and googley eyes, so I'm assuming that means it's the biggest and most important one.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

FOOD PORN IV - Hot, greasy goodness

This reminds me of a quote by the great Yogi Berra: "You'd better cut the pizza into four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beavis & Butthead do competitive eating

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, Beavis & Butthead were funnier than just about anything else on TV. I guess my sense of humor has changed a little bit since then, but they're still entertaining. In this clip, the pair enter a bratwurst eating contest in an effort to win a 1988 "mostly Chevy Cavalier."

If Beavis (the blonde one) & Butthead were competitive eaters, which real life eaters would they be?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hudson_CellPix.1The following is the first “guest entry” on Mega Munch. It’s written by Jeremy, a good friend of mine and one of my biggest competitive eating supporters. Today, Jeremy and his wife, Lisa, also became first-time parents with the birth of their son, Hudson. That’s him at right looking hungry and focused.

Guest Mega Munch entry by Jeremy J. Sutton

Competitive eating needs to be left to the pros! I am a 9th grade English teacher and yesterday my class and the entire English wing of our local high school learned this lesson.

It was a chain reaction, something like that scene from the movie “Stand By Me,” where the lardass-07overweight teen, who is tired of being made fun of for his weight, uses an organized competitive eating event to seek his revenge. His plan was rather genius! Eat beyond his capacity (pies) and leave no option but throwing up, which he did. He knew, like a nuclear reaction, that a vomit reaction would immediately follow. He sat back and enjoyed watching his fellow competitors and heckling audience members project their lunches and stomach acids all over one another (Mega Munch, may I suggest you post a video link of this scene on your blog?).

This story is not far from the truth from my experience yesterday. Unbeknown to me at lunch, the previous period before my class, a small light-weight (maybe 4 foot 10 at 85 lbs) student had eaten 10 slices of cafeteria pizza soaked in red Tabasco sauce in his first competitive eating event. He put it all down in three minutes.

When he entered my class he looked like he had digestive issues, because his hands rested on his belly as he tried to comfort himself. Once class began he complained about not feeling well. He is a daily behavioral issue, so I was skeptic to believe him, but as I walked by him during my lecture I could hear how upset his stomach was. It sounded like a lava lamp with a drain beneath it. Every few minutes the drain would clear and I could hear the gurgling. As I continued to lecture I noticed that the gurgling was happening more regularly and I could hear it from clear across the classroom.

I was no longer skeptic when I saw, in the corner of my eye, his friend laughing at him as the first dry heave warmed his throat up and prepared him for vomiting. Seconds later, with hand over mouth, he threw up and immediately swallowed. I could tell it burned on the way up and again on the way down, because he slouched forward. With his beady little eyes, one hand over mouth, one raised in the air to call my attention he begged to rush to the bathroom. I quickly excused him and many of his fellow students quickly worried about him, with the exception of a few adolescent boys that laughed loudly.

Seconds later, with the vocal cords of an adult male lion, he roared vomit into the toilet. It could be heard 25 yards in any direction. Worse yet was the fact that I could hear Tabasco soaked pizza dough splashing into the toilet water like land mines exploding on the battlefield. A battlefield it was for this young amateur gurgitator. He had lost the battle, but not the war (yet).

One of the students in my classroom suggested I go check on my competitive eating solder and make sure he is okay. As I opened the classroom door I found him walking back to class with a huge smile of relief on his face. It was apparent that he was relieved, but he left others in harm’s way. I also saw one of my colleagues, a fellow English teacher, pacing the hallway in front of her classroom with her hand over her mouth and I could see she was swallowing her own vomit and was in pain.

Afterwards, she explained to me that she has a very weak stomach and because her classroom is next to the boy’s bathroom she could hear the vomit with THX sound quality – as each piece of dough splashed she weakened and became another causality of the pizza soaked in Tabasco sauce war. What finally triggered her was the sight of one of her own students dry heaving as he heard my student puking in the toilet. A chain of events was set into motion and the casualties only seem to increase in her classroom.

My student apologized to my fellow teacher and entered back into my classroom with hands raised, singing a Queen song proudly and with a smile on his face, “We are the champions of the world . . . “

I informed him that I knew MegaMunch, who eats competitively, as his once sick sore little beady eyes opened wide as if it were Christmas morning and he responded, “tell MegaMunch to bring it! I’ll out eat anyone!”

I smiled and thought to myself and with my inside my head voice said, ‘yah, but amateur you puked and are therefore disqualified,’ but I needed to class back on track and I didn’t want to steal his thunder, because in his mind (and his buddies’) he won at eating and puking and therefore he is a double hero.

Good luck to him next time when the cafeteria becomes another unorganized eating competition and he has the support of 400 other freshman cheering him on as he dips his cheese pizza into a cup filled of Tabasco sauce so can soften the dough as does Kobayashi with hotdog buns; though the fact that this eating warrior does not know this is a proven technique and created it on the spot may suggest that he is a natural and has a strong instinct for this sport. I wish I could say the same about his academic ability in English.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Welcome to the table

Bloggers who also eat competitively are awesome, especially when those bloggers are brand new to the sport and have a lot to say. Here are some very detailed accounts of Zero's first IFOCE event (kolaches on September 2) and his second event (pulled pork on September 16). Don't miss his account of holding back the "urge to purge" during the pork contest.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hate mail is better than no mail!

This is crazy and funny and a little scary (but mostly crazy and funny) all wrapped into one menacing anti-fan letter.

Andrew "Skinnyboy" Lane -- the 36th ranked competitive eater in the world and an all-around stand-up guy from Denver whom I had the pleasure of competing against in the World Pizza Championship in DC a few months ago -- recently competed in the World Kolache Eating Championship at the Nebraska State Fair.

Apparently some guy read about the contest and then realized that Skinnyboy also lived in the Mile High City and decided to give him a call. He basically ranted to Skinnyboy about gluttony being a mortal sin and how competitive eaters are all going to hell and a bunch of other stuff that encourages me to vote Democrat in the next election. Then this guy sat around for a few hours after the call (I'm assuming) and thought of all kinds of "really clever insults" and "things he shoulda said during the call" (my random quotes) because he later wrote a letter to Skinnyboy, which you can see below.

Like Skinnyboy, I'm a little confused by Coach Steve's accusation that Skinnyboy "sounded like something between Paris Hilton and the Three Stooges". I'm having trouble imagining that cross-generational combination of personalities. Knowing Skinnyboy, I can see Paris Hilton and the Marx Brothers, but not Larry, Moe and Curly. Maybe he meant Lindsay Lohan and Three Stooges. Or Britney Spears and the Smother's Brothers. Who knows.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Office fridge raider gets busted

Our refrigerator at work is always stocked with a combination of "free for all" food (usually leftovers from catered lunch meetings) and people's personal snacks and lunches. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. The guy in this video knows what I'm talking about.*

* This video was actually shot in the kitchen of the agency where I work. Turkey Hill is one of our clients. I remember vividly the day this video was shot because the kitchen was off limits for what seemed like forever and I was thirsty. Ironic, huh?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mmmmm...crap on a stick

Everything tastes better when it's skewered on a stick. Not long ago, George Duran (The Food Network's "Ham on the Street") devoted an entire episode to things you can eat. . .on a stick. So did Unwrapped.

Minnesota State Fair is famous (some would say notorious) for showcasing more food on a stick than you can shake a stick at. Supposedly there were 59 DIFFERENT stick-served items at this year's fair, and the video below highlights just about every one of them. The first half of the video is shots of people holding and announcing the items, the last half is of people eating them.

Some of the highlights include pizza on a stick, alligator on a stick, spaghetti on a stick, and a freakin' huge corn dog (at the 1:18 mark or right about when the little circular thing gets below the third "w" in the on-screen web address). I really, really want to make a crack about the unfortunate ketchup placement on that thing, but I won't -- although I think I just did.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Taco Bell Challenge (#3) -- IT'S ON!!

Because I assumed there had to be something out there on the topic, I Googled "Taco Bell Challenge" and found myself at UrbanDictionary.com (the first result listed). The site lists no fewer than five definitions for the feat. Check 'em out here for yourself.

The most interesting is number three, which pits two challengers against each other to see who can eat the most packets of Taco Bell "Fire" Sauce in one sitting. No drinking and no eating allowed. Granted, even the "fire" sauce isn't that hot, but it would be cool to see how many a guy can eat over the course of an hour. Fifty? Seventy? One hundred?

sauceI think the most fun part of this challenge would be the preparation. Going around to various Taco Bell's and stealing hundreds of Fire sauce packets. (Would it really be stealing if you bought a Chalupa before grabbing a couple fistfuls of sauce? I don't think so.)

Assuming the average Taco Bell only has about 40 Fire sauces in that little bin, it seems like you'd have to hit up at least three or four before scoring enough sauce to support a two or three person contest. I guess one guy could clean 'em out and the next accomplice could alert an employee that it's empty and then clean 'em out again after they refill it. There's 100 packets right there and you're on to the next Taco Bell.

To save yourself the trouble of having to run all over the place, I suppose you could just try to slip the pimple-faced, 16-year-old cashier a $20 bill and ask him for 200 or so packets. He's making somewhere south of $6.00 an hour, so I'm thinking he'd hook you up and ten cents each seems like a good rate. This method would also be useful if you live in a more rural area and don't have the luxury of having half a dozen Taco Bells within a 30 minute drive of your house.

I'm definitely going talk to some people at work and try to make this happen. To make it interesting, I think we should each kick in $10. Winner take all. A side bet can be started to see who can come closest to guessing how many packets the eventual champion can suck down before the hour is up.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Don't hate the belly, hate the game

The other day at work a "friend" called me fat. Actually, her almost exact words were, while patting me on the stomach: "Whoa! Looks like someone's putting on a few with this competitive eating thing!"

I didn't really care. Actually I laughed and said something about having just had lunch. But a few minutes later I thought, "Damn, that's kind of fucked up!" I mean, I wouldn't walk up to her, smack her on the ass and say, "Hey, looks like someone's been having a few too many dollar drafts and jalapeno poppers during happy hour!"

So I've gained a few pounds. It's not like I didn't know that before she told me.

My gain is actually in contrast to what normally happens to competitive eaters. I've heard from several competitors that after they take up the sport, many of them actually lose weight. But not me. I've gained about 10 or 15 pounds this year (up to about 185). I'm still, by most definitions, "skinny" but I am developing something resembling one of those little neck pillows around my midsection.

Still not anywhere near the doughy 210 pounds I topped out at during my sophomore year in college. Blame that on beer, all-you-can-eat cafeteria food, and a very sedentary lifestyle. The fact that I was approaching my mid-20s and saying goodbye to my super-charged metabolism probably didn't help either. Then I lost 50 pounds during my junior year just by cutting out the crappy cafeteria food and spending a few hours a week on a treadmill (the beer stayed).

So yeah. I'm going to try to keep my weight under 180. For every contest I compete in or three-pound burger challenge I attempt, I'll make it a point to step up the calorie watch and exercise regimen in the week prior and the week after. Hopefully that'll do the trick. At least enough to keep my co-workers off my back.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Major League Eating needs a Triple Crown

That's right, I'm talking about three major events -- acknowledged by eaters and fans alike as "the big ones" -- that represent the crowning jewels of the competitive eating calendar. Win all three titles and it doesn't matter what you do the rest of the year, because you -- as the kids like to say -- are the shizznit.

Pretty much every other individual sport has a Triple Crown (or, in the case of four events, a Grand Slam). Golf has the U.S. Open, Player's Championship, British Open and Masters. Tennis also has a Grand Slam. Horse racing has a Triple Crown. Hell, even boxing labels its best fighters as "undisputed champions" when they're able to hold (either by fix or legitimate win) the WBC, WBA and IBF belt titles simultaneously. How cool would it be if competitive eating did something similar?

Imagine the frenzy surrounding that third and final event of the year. Kobayashi has already won the first two contests (let's just admit right now that the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Contest is one of the events) and the only thing standing between him and the Major League Eating Triple Crown is a field of hungry and focused gurgitators hell-bent on keeping him from reaching his goal.

But if the Nathan's contest is one of Triple Crown jewels, what are the other two?

A series of qualifying contests always helps legitimize an event. It ensures that only the best of the best face off in the final competition and also helps build up a little hype prior to the big day. That said, it seems like the Krystal Square Off would make a good second jewel in the MLE Triple Crown. It also helps that it's not too close to the Nathan's hot dog contest (Krystals in October, Nathans in July). This gives eaters a little time to refocus. It also gives fans plenty of time to critique the last contest and buzz about the next.

We might also agree that the three events should be somewhat different in the type of food they're based on. It should take a well-rounded eater to win all three titles. They must have talent and skills across a wide range of foods -- from bready, meaty snacks to soft and sweet desserts.

Granted, that requirement doesn't bode well for the Krystal Square Off as a second Triple Crown event. I mean, let's face it, the only real difference between Krystal hamburgers and Nathan's hot dogs are the shape and type of meat (burgers = beef, hot dogs = delicious "meat" and "spices"). But since Krystal has the all-important qualifying round, built-in media hype and a solid sponsor, we'll keep it on our list.

So what's the final event? (And no one really said we have to limit it to three events, but we'll stick with three for now.)

Johnsonville Brats?
PROS: Big $$ means it brings out the world's finest and gets ESPN coverage.
CONS: It's basically a fatter, juicier hot dog.

PROS: Makes use of many different foods. It's also the freakin' U.S Open of Competitive Eating.
CONS: Lack of sponsorship forced its cancellation in '06. Held just one week after the Nathan's contest (July 13).

3 Brothers Pizza?
PROS: The brothers themselves are thinking about doing a 15-round qualifier for next year's contest.
CONS: Yet another doughy food. Lacks reputation as a "big event."

Wing Bowl?
PROS: Good calendar position (early February). And, with 15,000+ spectators, it's probably the most well-attended eating event in the world (Nathan's overhyped estimations aside).
CONS: It's not an IFOCE event and the hoops would-be eaters have to jump through to compete tend to rule out a "best of the best" field of competitors.

Golden Palace Grilled Cheese Finals?
PROS: Also good calendar position (early February). And it uses qualifying rounds.
CONS: Another doughy, sandwich-like food, but the grilled-ness of it somehow makes it different.

Looks like the front-runners are the Grilled Cheese Finals and the U.S. Open (if it returns in '07 and can be moved to a late winter or early spring date). Anyone know a good sponsor with close to $100,000 to spare?

Monday, September 04, 2006

World's Largest Burger (as of 11:31 AM EST)

It's been reported just about everywhere by now, but Denny's Beer Barrel Pub's 50-pound record-breaking burger has been topped by a 78.5 pound monster from Bob's BBQ & Grill in Thailand.

Yesterday I got an email from Bob Schindler, the owner of Bob's BBQ & Grill. In it he talked about the creation of the burger and hooked me up with this rare photo of Big Bob's Texas Belt Buster. Accompanying it is Bob's head chef Khun Sowpee.

Gotta give credit to Bob's creation for being a true one-patty burger. (Little known fact: Bob's has what is called the "Wagon Wheel Challenge" -- finish a three-pound burger and fries in one hour and you get immortalized in the Bob's Hall of Fame. These guys already did it.)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Now THIS is a road trip

This is what I love about food, especially oversized food. It inspires people to write, plan, dream, and travel. Like these guys.

Tanker and Splash -- two regular joes from New Brusnwick, Canada -- have
started a blog about their ongoing plan to drive 14 hours to attempt "Ye Old 96'er" at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania . (Most of you already know, that's the 6-pound burger -- 11 pounds dressed -- that catpulted Kate Stelnick to instant eating fame when she became the first person ever to finish it within the 3-hour time limit.)

They're hitting the road in the "Burgermobile" on Friday, September 14 and hope to be having a late lunch at Denny's the following day. Below is an excerpt from their blog and a picture of them at right.

"We're getting older now, Tanker and Splash, and it occurs to us that we may not have many more years to travel the roads around these parts. On a quick whim and with some hasty planning, it was decided, solidly, that Tanker and Splash will ride again. And we're going to find that burger if it kills us."

In recent posts, the pair announced the addition of two more Cannucks to their travelling party: Seamus O'Toole (please tell me that's his real name, because it is awesome!) and "Eager Al." According to Tanker and Splash, Seamus sweats a lot, but is "good at fixing engineered things," so he'll come in handy if the "Burgermobile" breaks down.

I really admire these guys' determination. I live two stinkin' hours from Denny's Beer Barrel Pub and my friends and I have been "talking about" going up there for about six months now and still nothing. Hats off to Tanker, Splash, Seamus and Eager Al for finally making it happen. Hell, if they'd let me (and if I weren't such a lazy schlub), I'd fly up to Saint John, New Brunswick just to make the 14-hour road trip with them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Big Mac attack

I found this story last week on A Hamburger Today and got a laugh out of it (the video is better than the written version).

I guess some people will do anything for a "f***ing cheeseburger and f***ing order of fries." If you asked me, I'd say this is why fast food places should deliver. What kind of country do we live in where I can get kung pao chicken delivered to my door but I can't get a double bacon cheeseburger and some onion rings? That's just not right.