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In the end, one taco was all that separated first from third. I’ll dispense with the drama and get right down to the totals. Each of us started with 19 tacos (more on why it wasn’t 20 later) and the contest went the full 30 minutes. We’d all hoped to break the 15 taco mark, but fell just short. Here are the finishers:
1. Beau "La Beauheme" Faulkner – 14 tacos
2. Jeremy “Franken” Steen – 13.5 tacos
3. Dave “Quote Unquote Mega Munch” Shoffner – 13 tacos
4. Mike “Wow, This Sucks” Wilt – 11 tacos
5. Adam “Down the Hatch” Downing – 8 tacos
6. Jeremy “I’m This Many” Steen Jr. – 2 tacos
Because he was only three years old, Jeremy Junior wasn’t eligible to be an official participant, but he ate one of our extra tacos at the beginning of the contest and another at the end, giving him 25 percent of Adam’s total. Not a bad showing for a rookie his age. We can expect to see great things from this kid in the near future.
Here's Jeremy Junior plowing into his first taco during minute one of the contest. I watched him intently, taking precise mental notes of his technique and style. Later, I tried to incorporate what I'd learned into my own game; looking for any edge I could find. Unfortunately, Jeremy Junior's mother was unwilling to feed me my tacos so I had to use my own hands. I can't say it cost me the contest, but it certainly didn't help.
The Taco Bell folks stiffed us by four hard tacos (seriously, don’t act surprised), so three of us gave a hard taco to Beau and we gave one taco to Jeremy Junior, leaving each of us with 10 soft tacos and 9 hard tacos. Different strategies were employed by all. Ian, an almost participant-turned-taco-eating-strategist suggested stacking two hard tacos inside each other and wrapping that with two more soft tacos, thus creating one giant taco. According to Ian, “That way, you’ll only have to eat 5 tacos.” No one took his advice. Maybe we should have.
Here we are getting ready for something that will probably haunt our bodies through the weekend and well into Monday. From left to right: Jeremy, Adam, Beau, me and Mike. Halfway through his first taco, Mike would set the tone for the next 29 and a half minutes by exclaiming with a full mouth, "Wow, this sucks!" He would also throw off my meticulous taco counting method and cause me to lapse into a late contest panic by slipping an extra hard taco onto my plate. His trickery might have actually helped me eat faster.
Our champ, Beau, rests peacefully after the contest. At about the 25 minute mark, Jeremy and I took note of Beau’s one taco lead and knew that it would come down to a few last minute bites at the buzzer. But Beau pulled through, thanks partly to some inspirational coaching by Scott and his smart use of hot sauce throughout the contest.
Congratulations to all (we're already planning our next event) and thanks to Megan for serving as the contest emcee/timekeeper, Jan the photographer, Joel the videographer and Heather the taco runner. A video of contest highlights will be posted sometime in the near future. Check out a full set of the photos here, including Adam "The Red" Downing, Brian getting spooked, my meat sweats and a nice money shot.