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

Thursday, May 31, 2007


This weekend is our annual guys' campout. Also known as Bill's third annual bachelor party. It's a two-nighter full of poker, paintball, fishing, beer and, of course, lots of food high in sodium and saturated fat. I'm in charge of the menu and buying the food (everyone will chip in when we get there to cover the tab).

I have to be in charge of the food. Bill suggested asking everyone to "bring something," but then you wind up with four cans of baked beans, a pack of cheese dogs and a bag of Ruffles. And that would be bad. Granted, it's not the quality of the food I'm worried about (there's still beans, cheese dogs and Ruffles on the menu), it's the quantity. I can't run out of food on a campout. I have to have something to skewer on a stick and roast over the fire between hands of Hold 'Em. Or when I get back from not catching any trout. Or after a hike. If I run out of food, suddenly the woods feel like, well, woods. And what would be the fun in that?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Yesterday we took our most recent soon-to-be-departed intern, Chris, out to Fuddruckers in what has become a regular intern tradition at the advertising agency where I work. After conquering the Fudd's two-pounder a few months ago, Chris was feeling hungry and focused so he put the challenge to Beau and I to go head-to-head with him in a first-to-finish contest.

Before we dug into our burgers (two one-pound patties between two buns), Scott made what he thought was a safe offer: if anyone finishes in under 10 minutes, he'll buy the burger. Since we had to buy two one-pounders to make our monsters, each deuce cost around $15. Not one to pass up a free lunch, I plowed into my burger with "the works" and finished in 9 minutes, 30 seconds (that's me at right proudly displaying my clear mouth and brand new United Eaters of Pennsylvania shirt). The toughest part of that burger was that it was still piping hot from the grill. I had to separate the patties to let the bottom one cool off while I worked on the top patty (taking gulps of diet coke to cool it off in my mouth). Beau put his burger away at the 14 minute mark and Chris, conceding defeat, threw in the towel with some soggy bun and a few crickets left.

Oh yeah, the crickets. On Friday we had a scavenger hunt at work and one of the items on the list was a pack of dried "bacon and cheese" crickets from the science center gift shop in downtown Harrisburg. We took a pack of the insects to lunch and sprinkled them on Chris's burger before we got started when he wasn't looking. Normally I would never screw with another guy's food, especially in a contest, but he's an intern, so it's okay.

Here we are with our burgers before the contest. A few hours before we left for lunch, my UEPa shirt arrived from Cafe Press so I thought I'd put it to good use. I also got several of the UEPa/Dennys photo magnets and UEPa logo magnets. Enough for everyone, so the next time I see any UEPa members, I'll give you yours.

Here's a shot of what's left of Chris's burger. Those are two "crick-ettes" covered in mayo in the foreground. There were about 12 in the box and only three or four left when it was over. Chris said he noticed the box during the contest. A few bites later he crunched into his first cricket and just kept going. He's hardcore. Because that's how we train 'em.

A full set of pics can be found here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


An eater we all know told me yesterday that his performance in a recent contest was less than what he expected, possibly because he had "a lot of beer and pizza the night before." I'll let him own up to his behavior with a comment if he wants to.

I fast before a contest. It's what a lot of people do. Some for a shorter period (no food the day of) and some longer (no food for 24-hours prior). The 24-hour fast is one of the toughest parts of the pre-contest preparation for me. Depending on how much is at stake, I might have a salad the night before, but that's it. I find the practice to be strangely theraputic. It's a psychological victory and it gives me a mental edge during the contest (trust me, I need all I can get). Plus it makes me feel a lot better about consuming so many calories during the contest. And I don't believe any of that stuff about fasting "shrinking" your stomach. I'm convinced that my stomach is no smaller from fasting than it would be if I ate a ham sandwich and some Doritos the night before.

Monday, May 28, 2007


"You ever eat so much you feel sick? Isn't that the best? Then you feel like a real American." - Jim Gaffigan

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The Philly Nathan's qualifier is in the books and it looks like another Sonya vs. Humble Bob controversy is brewing. For the record, I love it. A little rivalry and a few heated words are exactly what this sport needs to gain legitamacy and fan interest.

This time, Sonya beat Bob 36 hot dogs to 33 to win the qualifier and a spot at the Coney Island table on July 4th. But according to Steakbellie, who ate alongside Sonya and Bob at the contest, Bob says a mistake in post-contest plate counting cost him the win (they count empty plates at the end rather than dogs as they're eaten) (correction regarding plate count vs. dog count can be found in comments). "The main controversy involved Humble Bob’s plate count," said Steakbellie in a comment on Eat Feats. "He had enough empty plates in front of him to have beaten Sonya. A Nathans official decided that he must have been given a double plate."

Mr. Bellie said he's not sure what basis the judge had for making the now infamous "double plate call." I'm assuming they were using paper plates. Were the plates sort of locked together the way paper plates can get when they're fresh out of the package? Was there no hot dog crumbs or grease on the plate? Who knows.

Steakbellie is also sure the "considerable video coverage" will help settle the dispute and allow for post-contest dog-by-dog counting. If that's the case, it could be the first time in competitive eating history that a contest was decided by not-so-instant replay. And if that happens, it's very likely that Sonya will FLIP THE FUCK OUT (lest we forget her reaction when her deduction for too much detritus caused her to finish less than an ounce behind Bob in meatballs in December).

Of course, second place doesn't matter as much in this contest because there's no money on the line and her 36 will likely be enough to earn her a wild card spot at Coney anyhow (correction per comments: wild card spots go to the best non-winning average from three qualifiers). Still, the Black Widow don't take too kindly to being bumped from first place in anything. And that's part of the reason why I love her.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Not sure when this opened up, but the IFOCE just listed a pig's feet eating contest on June 23. Get 'em while they're...hot? Truth be told, in the realm of barnyard animal feet, pigs have to be among the easiest to eat. Chickens. Now those are some tough feet to eat. And cats. Unfortunately this is the same day as the shoofly pie contest, otherwise I would be ALL OVER this one. You know I would. I can eat the hell out some pigs feet. Picked pigs feet, pigs feet pie, pigs feet gumbo, pigs feet pizza, pigs feet pancakes, pigs feet ala mode...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've never cut a burger in half before -- not really sure why you would -- but I'm damn glad someone felt the need to take a knife to this one because it's friggin' beautiful. I love how that little piece of lettuce is stuck to the burger. Almost as if it knows that that's where the real action is, not up there with the rest of those stupid vegetables. The photographer of this masterpiece says the $14 burger is a product of Lure Fishbar in NYC. Actually, I take back my previous claim that I've never cut a burger. I did it last year at the Clinton Station Diner and, sadly, it didn't look anything like this.

Monday, May 21, 2007


When I was a kid I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory about a 1,000 times and out of all the ways the snotty little asshole kids were "eliminated" (killed?), I thought Augustus Gloop's death by the chocolate river was, if I had to choose, the best way to go. You might think that drowning in liquid chocolate, while a tasty way to go, would actually be horrible because, well, it's drowning, and you might be right. But he actually didn't drown in the river. You may remember he was sucked up by that big pipe which, of course, leads to the fudge room. Mmmmm, the fudge room.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Registration for shoofly pie opened last night. I watched the website all day. Refresh page, refresh page, refresh page. Sometime during an episode of Six Feet Under, registration commenced and I dutifully signed up.

The 2006 shoofly contest was my first ever IFOCE appearance and was a giddy as an 11-year-old girl at an American Idol concert when I got the email from Kate Westfall saying that I had a spot at the table. Hopefully I'll get a spot at this year's table too. Below is a shot of Steakbellie at last year's competition.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Today our design team pulled me into the conference room to get my input on our next inner-office eating challenge. They're the biggest fans of our eating contests, but not always the biggest eaters (even though they always have great snacks in their meetings).

Their proposal: A friday lunch trip to the local Jumbo Chinese buffet armed with nothing but a kitchen scale and large appetite. Whoever eats the most food in 30 minutes -- as measured by pounds and rounded to the nearest ounce -- would be declared the winner. I immediately agreed that it was an awesome idea. It's one that I'd considered in the past but never got around to getting off the ground. No date for the showdown has been set, but it'll probably happen in two to four weeks.

Talk soon turned to strategy. The obvious one being to consume dense foods that offer the most weight, yet take up the least amount of room in the stomach. Which options fit that category is anyone's guess, although rice and noodles were ruled out immediately. For the record, the buffet boasts one of the largest selections in central Pennsylvania. News articles published when it opened claimed it offered more than 200 items. It looks like a little personal research is required for this one. Bring on the General Tso's!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The waist-watching folks over at the Diet Blog have compiled a listing of the seven most sugar filled drinks. Lots of orange sodas and energy drinks although number two might (or might not) surprise you. Fruit juices are supposed to be "healthy" right? While you're there, check out Quito's comment (fourth from the top) about Starbucks. That's why I'm a coffee with two pinks kind of guy.

Personally the only liquid calories I consume are from beer and the 5 or 10 calories in the average cup of coffee. Plus a little in the skim milk I use on my cereal. Cutting empty calories by switching to diet sodas, iced teas, and other artificially sweetened drinks is a good way to save calories for when it matters most (like eating contests!). How do you think Skinnyboy is able to live up to his nickname? Well, that and spending several hours a week in a gym. I'll start with the Diet Mountain Dew.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Yesterday our local brewery and favorite restaurant, Appalachian Brewing Company, celebrated their 10th anniversary with a daylong festival of activities, bands, food and beer. Beau, myself and an ABC regular, a man affectionately known as "Evil Bastard," signed up to be one of eight teams in the brewery's annual outhouse races. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Evil Bastard sat in a real wooden outhouse on wheels (they made them specially for the competition) and Beau and I pushed like hell. We ended up winning both our heats to take home a kick ass trophy (of course it has an outhouse on it) which we plan to share with Evil Bastard on a rotating basis.

Beers at the festival were $2 all day, a price break I took full advantage of. What I wasn't prepared for was the FREE buffet of hot dogs, pulled pork, and other good stuff. Heather and I were planning to go out to dinner later that evening at one of our other favorite restaurants so, for four hours, I showed amazing willpower by walking past that buffet about a dozen times without eating a thing.

I find the act of restraint in the face of such temptation to be a very necessary part of the competitive eating training process (I train by not eating, that explains a lot). As someone who likes to eat and has a really difficult time passing up free food, it's never easy to say "no"-- especially for such a long time and when coupled with so many cheap beers -- but it really feels good to know that I can do it when I want to. The body and mind needs to know hunger and temptation and be in control of those urges, rather than letting those urges control the body and mind.

Plus it means I can eat like a pig later on.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Kevin "Kevin Ross" Ross, the rookie phenom and one of the most spirited members of the Hungry Hooligans (a fantasy competitive eating team I captain) snapped this picture of himself and two fellow Hooligans, Pat Bertoletti and El Toro Jimenez, at last week's Nathan's qualifier in Las Vegas.

The sign Pat is holding is a display of Hooligans pride that will earn the team extra points in our race for the championship. Eaters earn points by eating, of course, but for every picture they take while displaying the team logo, we get extra points. The Hungry Hooligans are solidly in second place, but I have a feeling once we hit our groove, we'll take over the lead and never look back. Thanks for the pic, Kevin. And to think I almost traded you to Steakbellie's Manitoba Meatsweats for Brian Seiken and a case of Yuengling.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Some people eat pigs feet. Others eat cow tongue. Some even eat sheep testicles. Nothing really goes to waste and I guess that's a good thing, but I never thought I'd see the day that little floppy thing on top of a chicken's head became an ingredient in the soup du jour. That flap of pink flesh is also called a cockscomb and it doesn't look half bad once it's all cooked up. I'd try it, at least. And I might even like it...even if the chef told me what it was.

(Via Slashfood)

Monday, May 07, 2007


It’s long been the goal of competitive eating (in particular, the MLE brand of competitive eating), to be viewed as a legitimate sport. With contests televised live on ESPN, that goal is closer to tongue-in-cheek reality than many people think. To help speed that process, I’ve developed the following system which can be used to report the results of contests in an easy to read format. Its inspiration comes from the box scores used by Major League Baseball.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the narrative format the IFOCE currently uses to report results is a little difficult to scan and read, especially during those rare contests when eater rankings and totals are available beyond third place. This new box score will alleviate that. Everything you need to know can be found in one simple and concise block of names and numbers. And, just like Major League Baseball, a narrative write-up about the contest can still be provided to fill fans in on all the details, quotes and controversy not captured within the statistical confines of the box score.

It’s my personal hope (and the hope of many other eaters and fans, I’m sure) that the box score also helps improve post-contest results reporting by the IFOCE. Here's what I was thinking.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory. The “PTS (TOT.)” column will be used to track how many points each eater earned during the contest and his or her total points for the season. If the points system is abandoned (I’m holding out hope that it’s not), that column of information can be abandoned as well.

I know I haven't done anything particularly ground breaking here. It's just a chart of numbers created in Microsoft Word, but it's a start. Any thoughts anyone has would be welcome.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


A couple of new videos today. The first is an ongoing project by a man named David Wolfe. In 1989 he bought two McDonalds cheeseburgers, ate one, and put the other in his jacket pocket. Fast forward one year later. David pulls his jacket out of the closet and discovers in the pocket one uneaten cheeseburger. The rest is history. He's saved a cheeseburger each year ever since and chronicled their demise in this video and website.

The experiment reminds me of one of the DVD extras on Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me documentary. He takes burgers and fries and seals them in jars for 10 weeks. The burgers break down somewhat, but the fries remain 100 percent intact! If you've ever found a six month old french fry under the seat of your car, you'll know what I'm talking about.

In this second video a couple bought a giant jawbreaker and took turns licking it every day for six months. The licking looks strange, but they finally get the better of the gobstopper. Willy Wonka would be proud. Thanks to Billy at Super Sized Meals for this one.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


The poll of the week over at Eat Feats is about the financial benefits of being an IFOCE eater (the fact that OJ still doesn't call it MLE is proof that he/she isn't inside the organization) versus the financial benefits of being an AICE or independent eater. More specifically, which IFOCE eaters benefit most from being members of the IFOCE? The top five? The top 10? The top 20?

The question is a good one because it addresses the long-standing view that unless you're a top-ranked eater in the IFOCE, the financial benefits are minimal. In fact, when you figure in travel expenses, some guys are actually losing money. Of course most of those low-ranked eaters who are travelling and consistently finishing out of the money are rewarded in other ways. For many of them, I suspect (and know from conversations) that the thrill of competing and hanging out with a great group of guys is worth the price of travel. I'm the same way.

Money (or lack thereof) aside, what about the competitive benefits of independent and local eating vs. the competitive benefits of IFOCE eating? Like most eaters, I have a competitive streak. I don't like to lose, although I am more gracious in defeat than most people (probably because I have lots of practice). That said, my chances of winning in indy/local contests is high. Every event is an event I could potentially win. Not so with IFOCE events. I know I'm going to get my ass kicked there. By multiple competitors. My only goal at that table is to not finish LAST. Using that measuring stick, I'm 2-0 in IFOCE competition.

What's my point? (I'm trying to remember.) Oh yeah, competitive benefits. When I lose in a local contest, I'm a lot harder on myself afterwards than if I lose in an IFOCE contest. Because I expect to do well in one and not the other. Could this be the lure of the IFOCE for many eaters, including myself? Does it provide my fragile ego with a safety net? "It's okay to lose at this table," the IFOCE beckons. "Besides, if you're gonna lose why not lose to the best in the world?"

I guess that's true. Unless you like to win now and then.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


When most people think of competitive eating in movies, they think of one of two scenes: Lardass spewing blueberry pie all over the place in Stand By Me (a great scene, but that's not the image we're going for) and Paul Newman downing 50 eggs in one hour in Cool Hand Luke (an image of true intestinal fortitude).

But lost in all of that is perhaps the funniest competitive eating scene in cinematic history, John Candy conquering of "The Old 96er" in The Great Outdoors while Dan Akroyd offers words of encouragement. Carey reminded me of this scene in a comment he left a few days ago.

The eating part of the clip below actually ends at around the 1:15 mark counting down (not sure why the person who made the clip included the extra scenes). Things I love about this clip: the wife ordering the "medley of perch," the freezer scene, John Candy's meatsweats, and his dazed expression as he leaves the restuarant (we know the feeling, don't we guys?). "Bon appetite!"