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

Monday, October 30, 2006


So I sat back down after grilling the Clinton Station Diner staff about the giant burger. Twenty minutes later, Heather’s hot turkey sandwich arrived. My burger did not. Oh well, I told myself, two pound burgers take time. Still, it seemed odd to bring out the other person’s order beforehand. After all, isn’t that why they invented heat lamps (something Heather’s lukewarm turkey thing could have used a few minutes under)?

I told Heather to go ahead and eat. As she was finishing her meal, my Leaning Tower of Burger was being carried toward out table. My eyes grew wide. My stomach growled.
The burger was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I’ve put two one-pound burgers together at Fuddruckers to make a “two-pounder,” but this one dwarfed it. After removing the top bun to add the requisite ketchup and A1, I soon found out why.

The meat patty itself was MAYBE one inch thick. The lettuce and what looked like one whole tomato was another inch. No cheese, no pickles, no onions. The rest of the beast – about another 4 inches—was bun. Two-and-a-half inches for the top and one-and-a-half for the bottom. Granted, that’s roughly proportional for a burger the diameter of a dinner plate, but it was the density of the buns that really took me by surprise.

CLINTON DINER 4This wasn’t a light, fluffy hamburger bun like you’d find in packs of eight at the supermarket. This thing was heavy—like thick, doughy foccachia bread on steroids. The top was hard and crunchy. Leave a dinner roll out on the kitchen counter for four days and then knock on it with your knuckle. That’s what this bun was like. Cutting into it sent shards of crispy, dark brown crust all over the table.

The taste was just like Beautiful Brian had warned, like prison meatloaf. I think I saw a shred of onion in the beef, but other than that, there was no discernable attempt to season the meat in any way.

The only real way to eat it was to cut it into pie-like pieces and the only way to eat those pieces was to remove the helmet-like top bun and eat the rest like an open faced sandwich. That left the top part of the bun on my plate. If this were a competition I would’ve tried to eat the top bun, but it wasn’t a competition and there was no way I was going to force down that slab of dough just for the sake of it.

Right about then, Heather reminded me that I didn’t get the fries I’d ordered. I just laughed and kept eating.

In the best interests of time—and the fact that Heather had already finished her pumpkin pie and was staring at me with a “when are we getting back on the road” look—I decided to cap my eating time at 30 minutes. Twenty minutes into the burger I told Heather I was going to “respect the meat.” With that, I removed the beef patty from the uneaten half of the burger, covered it in A1 and ketchup, and ate it before paying the tab and hitting the road.

So long Clinton Station Diner. Next stop, Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


From the moment we left Burlington, all I could think about was a two-pound burger. Skipping breakfast will do that. We finally arrived at the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, New Jersey—as of yesterday, home of the world’s largest burger at just over 100 pounds—after about four hours of driving.

Once we were seated, I asked our waiter (a kid about 19 years old who mumbled a lot) if the giant burger was still here, maybe sitting somewhere in a back room, half-eaten but still photoworthy. He stared dumbly at me, said he didn’t know, and that he only worked on Sundays. To be fair he did add before leaving to fill our drink order, “But I think there’s a contest to name it.”

Two quick glances over the menu revealed no one-pound burgers, no two-pound burgers, no 50-pound “Mt. Olympus” burger and no tiny, nano-burgers. I was beginning to get worried.

Our waiter returned with our diet Cokes. I asked about giant burgers, driving the point home by holding my hands up to my face as if clutching a monstrous, non-existent sandwich. He grunted something and pointed to some tiny print in the center of our place mats. Sure enough, there they were. All the giant burgers and the nano-burgers crammed into a few square inches of text, the descriptions running together in what looked like one long yet tiny paragraph. So much for proud and prominent placement on the menu. I quickly also realized that none of the sandwiches were accompanied by costs. Maybe it’s like seafood, I thought, the constantly fluctuating seasonal price of low grade beef precludes the actual printing of pesky things like prices.

I ordered the Hercules (two pounds of meat and three pounds total) cooked medium—with fries. I used the cooking time to go poke around and ask about the 100-pounder that our waiter had no idea about.

I found a semi-alert looking waitress in her late teens and asked if she knew anything about the giant world record burger that had been unveiled the day before. Was it still here? Could I take a picture of it? “Oohhh, I don’t know,” she said, drawing out her “oh” the way you would if you were trying to buy some time to think. “Let me take a look in the kitchen. Maybe it’s in the fridge.”

While I waited, I began reading one of dozens of photo copied stories about the 50-pound Mt. Olympus burger that were taped randomly to walls throughout the restaurant. Clearly someone was proud of the diner’s burgers, even if it was clear that the waitstaff wasn’t.

She returned, saying, “They don’t know.” (I had no idea who “they” were, but it was good to know that cluelessness wasn’t limited to those on the main floor.) “Maybe you can ask that guy in the white shirt,” she said, motioning to the 60ish year old guy behind the well-stocked desserts counter and then turning awkwardly to leave me standing there.

He looks old and in charge, I thought, that’s a good sign. This time I decided to preface my inquiry with something that might gain me some credibility. “Excuse me, I have a website about competitive eating and giant food items. Do you know if the 70-pound burger is still here for a picture?” (I didn’t say it would earn me some credibility at a White House press briefing, but I figured it would work in a diner that supposedly prided itself on giant burgers.)

He fired back, “No sir” without ever making eye contact and then busying himself with something else. I didn’t know if he meant “No, I don’t know if it’s here” or “No, it was here yesterday, but not today.” I asked again, changing the wording of the question a bit to try to get a different answer. It was an old trick I learned as a journalism major in college. “No sir,” he repeated almost as if it were a recording of his first response. So much for that trick. I was getting mad.

Two steps to my left was another waitress, maybe in her 40s. I asked the same question, not caring if Mr. No Sir heard me asking someone else. This was my fourth attempt. “Oh, I’m not sure. I think they ate it.” I wondered if the hungry “they” she was referring to was the same “they” that the 19ish year old waitress talked to in the kitchen. Since she actually (sort of) answered my question, I decided to go for broke and pose a follow-up. “Is there a Wall of Fame for people who have finished the giant burgers?”

Simple question. After all, if there were a Wall of Fame, some physical presence in the diner, a plaque with some names engraved on it—SOMETHING—she should know, right? Wrong. “A wall of fame? I don’t know,” she responded before immediate posing my question to a kid working alongside Mr. No Sir.

“Not yet,” said the kid. Finally, a straight answer. I returned to my table.

TO BE CONTINUED (with pictures)...

Friday, October 27, 2006


Heather and I are in Vermont right now (yes, I'm blogging while on vacation...gotta love laptops and free hotel internet access). Today we're going to visit the Magic Hat Brewery and the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory. Free samples aplenty, I hope.

On the drive up here we were passing through New Jersey and on the horizon, right on the edge of our six lane highway was a crappy little diner. As we got closer, it hit me. "That's the Clinton Station Diner!" I shouted to Heather as I whipped my head around to get a better look. She gave me a blank stare. "The Clinton Station Diner!" I repeated just in case she didn't hear me the first time (how could she not). Still nothing. "It's like the Denny's Beer Barrel Pub of New Jersey!" I said. That registered with her since she's heard me talking incessantly about my upcoming trip to Denny's with the UEPa to sample their giant burgers.

I told her we'll have to stop by the Clinton Station Diner for lunch/dinner on the way back home. For those who don't know, the Clinton Station Diner is renowned for its giant burgers. They've got a two-pounder, a three-pounder and a 50-pounder known as Mt. Olympus. Tomorrow they'll be unveiling a 70+ pounder (a new world record) and they'll be having a nano burger eating contest (tiny burgers). We'll miss that by a day, but I hope they still have some nano burgers on the menu when we get there. If not, I'll have to warm up for next week's trip to Denny's with a two-pounder.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The competitive eating half of the people who read this blog already know this, but the IFOCE has recently started something called "Major League Eating." MLE is intended to be the league that encompasses all of the eaters competing under the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) umbrella. Sorta like the NBA, MLB, or NFL. They've even got a cool logo.

Last week, the IFOCE got the MLE website off the ground with majorleagueeating.com. Right now it's just a home page, but it's a start. And a not a bad looking one at that. One can only assume that they're hard at work on the rest of the website. One also hopes that they'll give it the attention (and dollars) the sport of competitive eating deserves. After all, aside from the eating events, competitive eating's web presence is its second biggest opportunity to make an impression on potential new fans (and eaters).

That being said, here are few recommendations--just in case anyone at the IFOCE is listening--for how to make the new website bigger and better and more of an attraction than IFOCE.com was.

1. Abandon IFOCE.com and its well-intentioned offshoots, competitiveeating.com, competitiveeating.net and competitiveeatingevents.com (you don't need four websites to do the job that one website should be doing). All of the news and information on these websites can and should be included on MLE.com. And don't worry about what'll happen to people who visit the old websites, you can re-route those URL's to automatically forward traffic to the new site.

2. Take a lesson from Orbitz and create a few cheesy-but-addictive competitive eating related games that can be played by visitors. The games may be the only way fans will finally be able to out eat the pros and it’ll give them a reason to waste a few hours during a slow day at work.

3. Six words: MLE contest results via text message. It's working pretty well for the good folks behind the Krystal Square Off and it's not that hard to do.

4. One more word: Videos. They can be contest footage shot by fans and relayed to the IFOCE or shot by the IFOCE themselves. Or they can be some behind the scenes stuff. Nothing fancy, but just enough to give us an inside look at the life of a competitive eater.

5. Give fans more information about the eaters in the profiles section. Maybe use a series of 10 semi-off-the-wall questions designed to showcase who they really are.

6. Display each eater's total monetary winnings for the year in the rankings section.

7. Embrace the history of the sport. Include a page with some background about competitive eating’s roots, its early superstars, and where it’s been over the last 100 years. I’m sure Ryan Nerz would be happy to lend his literary talents to this section.

8. Start a blog. Contributors can be Mike, Ryan and the other contest emcees, as well as Kate and the rest of the IFOCE gang. Update it whenever. We’re not picky.

Those are a few ideas. Enough to get started at least. If anyone has any others, I’m sure everyone over at the IFOCE would be glad to hear ‘em.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I'll try just about any of the new diet colas with funky added flavors, so you can imagine my joy when a spy from an undercover consumer watchgroup shot this picture of a new offering from the good folks at Coca-Cola. Word on the street (and by "street" I mean the R&D laboratories deep within the confines of the Coke headquarters in Atlanta) is that this new flavor will launch some time in fall or winter of 2007, first in select markets down south and then gradually rolling out to bacon lovers in the north. God bless America!

Friday, October 20, 2006


This is pretty cool. The Smoking Gun has a listing of the actual contract riders from more than 200 bands and musicians. The contract rider is a document that specifies all kinds of demands and pamper me bullshit each performer wants before and after the show, including a listing of food and drinks they’d like waiting patiently for them when the arrive.

Check out the list of acts here. For most, the last few pages (or, in some cases, several pages) of the rider contains the food and drink requests. Click on the page numbers at the bottom.

Some include pretty normal requests. Many artists, including Axl Rose and Meat Loaf request one or more jars of honey. (I'm told some singers use it so sooth their voices before a show.) Others are disappointing. Marilyn Manson asks for Ruffles, Gatorade, gummi bears, diet coke and Pace salsa among the 20 or so items in his dressing room list. In other words, the second shelf of my cupboard is more hardcore than he is.

I guess I just don’t understand why these musicians are so needy. It's like they're stocking up for a nuclear winter or something. Then again, if I could request WHATEVER I WANTED and it would be delivered and waiting for me, I’d probably go a little crazy too.

I’d definitely need 12 bottles of COLD Corona beer (between 38 and 45 degrees or heads will roll!), 12 cans of assorted diet Coca-Cola products, one pound of buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans...and a bunch of other crap. I’ll think about it and have my manager call it in the morning before we arrive.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Heather and I went out for Chinese food this evening and this was my fortune. I rushed home, expecting to find a nice black forest cake or carrot cake or even a cherry cheesecake waiting for me on my doorstep. But there was no cake. Stupid lying fortunes. At this point I'd even settle for a mediocre cake.

Monday, October 16, 2006

THE CIRCUIT (Episode 2): "Case Closed"

Here's the second installment of the tale about our office drone/aspiring competitive eater.


Saturday, October 14, 2006


The video from our Wendy's Dollar Menu Challenge is finally available and it rocks (literally and figuratively). For those that don't remember, it was Megan and Jennifer teaming up to eat 13 dollar menu items against me and my 13 items in our office conference room after work. The video tells the story better than I can. The music is by a band called the Lost Cherrees and the song is a remake of the Oliver Twist song “Food, Glorious Food.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


When you were a kid, every oversized double cheeseburger looked this big. Back then it was your friend. It said things like, "Calories, what calories?! Just eat me and then go run around the neighborhood with your friends and everything will be alright!"

Now that I'm an adult, oversized double cheeseburgers still look good, but they don't look quite as big. They also say slightly different things. But I'll eat them anyhow, and then go run around the neighborhood with my friends.

Monday, October 09, 2006


One of the criticisms (maybe the only real criticism) about competitive eating is that it's "a waste of food" and "people in Sudan/Somalia/Tulsa are starving."

Blame it on my evolving politics, but I sort of agree. Well, the latter statement about Sudan is pretty much a fact, so you have to agree with that one. And the former, well, that's open to interpretation, but given the amount of food wasted every day at Old Country Buffets across the nation (to say nothing of how much is thrown away at closing time), it seems like the amount of food "wasted" at the average competitive eating table is like a drop in the bucket -- if the bucket were the size of small to medium-sized lake.

Anyhow, I've decided to try to make it right by my conscience. Not by giving up competitive eating, but by giving back a little bit to those who need the calories more than I do. To do so, I'll be donating the monetary value of all the food that I eat in competitions to America's Second Harvest, a network that helps collect and distribute more than 2 billion pounds of food to 25 million low-income hungry Americans each year. It's also the charity that the IFOCE donates to. In fact, if you donate here, the IFOCE will match your total. Not too shabby.

My own contributions started with last week's hot dog contest in Lancaster. At two bucks each, the 9 and a half hot dogs I ate equal a $19 donation to America's Second Harvest. And if, according to the A2H website, every dollar helps distribute 20 pounds of food, then my pathetic performance will move 380 pounds of breakfast, lunch and dinner to families across the nation. If you put it that way, I didn't do too badly.

Future donations will include food eaten in IFOCE competitions ($6 for the shoo fly pies and $14 for the Three Brothers pizzas) and food eaten in local competitions. They'll also include food consumed for personal challenges (like the Wendy's Dollar Menu throwdown in my office).

It's funny. One of the running jokes in competitive eating circles is that even if you lose the contest, at least you'll have gotten a free meal. Well, this new system of giving back sort of eliminates that perk. In fact, the more I eat, the more I'll have to give, but I hope that that will actually inspire me to eat more. Of course, the pride of winning the contest (and maybe some extra money) will inspire me too!

Before I sign off, I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about all of this because I want a pat on the back or to guilt others into giving or any of that crap. I just wanted to put it out there just in case anyone else felt the same way. And if you do, just stop by this page, have your credit card ready and be prepared to feel pretty okay about yourself afterwords.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

New crap

I was cleaning out my favorites list and I found a bunch of cool/fun/stupid food products that I'd bookmarked over the last few months and I thought I'd share them here.

Jolly Rancher Soda - Personally, I avoid any drinks with calories or sugar in it (except beer, of course), but these liquid candies look damn good. It sort of reminds me of those drinks that were made to taste like Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Just in case you want all of the artery clogging goodness of a glazed cream filled but don't feel like bothering with that whole chewing part.

Chocolate shaped food - I'm not a big chocolate freak like Heather is, but this company turns the stuff into food items like 10-inch pizzas, cheeseburgers, spaghetti and TV dinners. They also make chocolate cell phones, chocolate computers and chocolate pliers.

Cone shaped pizza - It's basically an ice cream cone (if the cone were made of pizza dough) filled with sauce, cheese and other pizza toppings, but it looks cool.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

THE CIRCUIT (Episode 1): "Hunger Strikes"

I've discovered a program that lets you create your own comic strips based on a somewhat limited series of interchangable characters and background settings so I made this one. It's about a guy who leaves his old life behind to pursue a career in competitive eating. I'll create new ones from time to time and some of them might actually be humorous (but no promises).


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Are some of us born to eat?

I've had a few days to think about my performance (or lack thereof) at the Lancaster hot dog contest and I've decided to chalk it up as a learning experience and move on.

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on the last post and offered some encouragement. Last night I was talking to my friend Jeremy (the guest mega muncher who wrote about the in-school pizza eating contest) and our conversation helped me realize a few things about my future in competitive eating.

We mainly talked about how I can't really beat myself up about eating only 9.5 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes because it was my first time ever eating hot dogs in a timed contest and, most importantly, I didn't train and I don't stretch my stomach (except for two attempts at drinking a gallon of water about two months ago). So basically, the contest was a test of my inherant, natural eating abilities in comparison to those of 19 other competitors. The fact that I finished fifth should actually be somewhat encouraging. It means I'm in the top 25 percent as far as natural potential is concerned. I guess.

We also talked about whether or not the "average guy" (or gal) off the street could stretch their stomach and refine their technique enough to be competitive on the pro eating circuit. In other words, is there hope for me? That depends on what you consider "competitive." Jeremy and I agreed that the upper eshelon of eaters--the Joeys and Sonyas and Kobayashis of the buffet--are probably genetically predispositioned to be better eaters. (For example, Koby's gastroptosis condition which places his stomach much lower than most human's, allowing it to expand with minimal obstruction from those pesky ribs.) Basically these "super eaters" have larger than average stomachs (made even larger by stretching exercises) and/or better-than-average natural abilities to override the "fullness" feeling that causes most eaters to slow during the latter half of a contest.

The rest of the competitive eating field is comprised of people who push their bodies and work their asses off to gain every advantage they can. Some, like Eater X, train harder and want it more than just about anyone at the table and are therefore able to put up amazing totals that sometimes rival the super eaters numbers. Though it should be noted that a super-trainer like X can, on occasion, take down a natural born super eater if the super eater neglects to train (or is just having an off-day). Some argue that this is what is happening to Sonya, a woman who's gone on the record as eschewing formal eating exercises.

So that's where I am. Competing without training on nothing but raw ability. Like a guy who decides he wants to be a NASCAR driver but has never driven anything but his three-speed Hyundai and never more than 70 miles per hour. And he wonders why he keeps crashing and burning in turn two.