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

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Not sure if anyone remembers, but a few weeks ago I bought two hamburger cookbooks with the intention of making one or two "fancy" burger recipes each month. Tonight was my first attempt -- the coconut-flake hawaiian burger.

HAWAIIAN BURGER - Main ingredients
If you don't mind a little sweetness in your burgers, then this recipe is for you. Mixed into 2 pounds of ground beef (90 percent lean) is 3 tablespoons of coconut cream (I used coconut milk), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper.

HAWAIIAN BURGER - Macadamia mash
While the burgers were grillin' I prepared the "coconut macadamia nut glaze" that would be used as a topping. It was essentially 8 ground up macadamia nuts (above), 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes and 3 tablespoons of coconut cream, combined and simmered in a saucepan for about five minutes.

Here's the finished product. Eight ounces of beef served on bed of baby romaine lettuce, topped with the coco-mac nut glaze and one slice of pineapple between a toasted sesame seed kaiser roll. Overall it was great burger. The coco-mac nut glaze was very sweet which was a nice change of pace as far as burgers are concerned. I ate two of these half-pounders, with the other one prepared minus the glaze and pineapple. Even without those two key toppings, the sweetness of the sugar and coconut in the beef was evident, but only subtly.

A full set of pics can be seen here.

Friday, September 28, 2007


For all you potato fans out there, tomorrow Cherry Crest Farms (in Lancaster County, PA) is hosting its second annual Potato Fest. The one day ode to the tuber features potato sack races, potato slinging contests, a menu of potato-related food offerings and, of course, a potato eating contest (one potato, first to finish wins). I might actually make it down there. Partly for the contest and partly because it's in Lancaster County and I've been looking for a chance to try out my new camera.

I'm trying to call them to find out when exactly the contest is. I'll let y'all know if I find out.

UPDATE: Just spoke with a very nice woman at Cherry Crest Farms and she said there will be TWO potato eating contests. One at noon and one at 4pm. The contest is open to as many as would like to participate (sign up at least 15 minutes prior) and the tater will be baked. If the interest is high enough, they will hold a series of heats with the winners facing off in a final round.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I'm trying to remember the last time I was in a food fight. Actually, now I'm trying to remember if I've EVER been in a food fight. When I was in the boy scouts? No. At a few of those summer camps my parents sent me to when I was a kid? I don't think so. Elementary school, middle school, high school? 'Fraid not.

Actually it's probably not such a bad thing. Nowadays I'd probably feel bad about wasting the food and I'd end up eating all my ammunition (while trying to catch flying morsels in my mouth).

Speaking of food fights, a group called Eat Better America has created a fun website that allows you to have virtual food fights with on screen foes while you browse the website's healthy recipes. Check it out here. Don't forget to click on the plate of food to replenish your ammo. And whatever you do, stay away from Chuck the hot dog vendor. He's a ruthless S.O.B.

Monday, September 24, 2007


As reported on Eat Feats, the aptly named MayoChallenge.com has set forth a challenge to all aspiring competitive eaters (or crack heads with camcorders and internet access): Consume an entire 32 ounce jar of mayonnaise in a "reasonable amount of time" without puking and you win the pot. So far "the pot" is $280.

Incidentally, the mayonnaise eating record is held by Oleg Zhornitskiy, who downed FOUR 32-ounce bowls of mayo in 8 minutes. Where is he now? Why doesn't he take this easy money? Is he waiting for the pot to get fatter before cracking open the Hellman's?

The cool thing about the Mayo Challenge site, besides its simplistic crudeness, is that they've posted some videos of past failed attempts at the bottom, including the one below from Becky. She's definitely a keeper. Anyhow, the whole thing begs the question, would you try this?

Friday, September 21, 2007


Beer is good. Especially when you sneak it into places you're not supposed to. Most alcohol is that way. I was at a Guster concert not long ago at Lehigh University and four drunk sorority girls were sitting behind us lamenting the fact that they had no booze when one of them said, "We really need to figure out a way to smuggle alcohol into concerts in our vaginas."

I thought about offering a few suggestions, but I didn't. (Have you seen those miniature bottles of Goldschlager they sell behind the liquor store registers, ladies?) It's probably a good thing they didn't sneak liquor into the concert (vaginally or otherwise), because halfway through the band's set, one of them puked all over the floor.

Anyhow, back to smuggled beer. A co-worker friend forwarded me a link to an ingenius little invention called the "Beer Belly." It's a pouch (with a capacity of 80-ounces) worn around the mid-section and connected to a drinking tube. That's it being used almost imperceptibly above. True, it's basically a Camelbak worn backwards, but it's still pretty cool...if you don't mind drinking warm, flat beer. But I guess that's better than no beer at all. While you're on the website, don't forget to check out the "Wine Rack." The aforementioned sorority sisters could have use one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


In a related follow-up to yesterday's post, what do you think happens to all the leftover pizza, pies, burgers, chicken wings and other food items that go uneaten at contests?

On second thought, do we really want to know?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


This past weekend in Chicago, it finally happened. The IFOCE officially ran out of food.

In the La Costeña “Feel the Heat” Jalapeño Peppers Contest, organizers had to stop the event 90 seconds early at 6 minutes and 30 seconds because the table had officially eaten everything the sponsor had. To be fair, that probably happens a lot when Pat Bertolleti is around. According to the official tally obtained by Wild Bill, a total of 1,172 jalapenos were eaten in less time than it takes to listen to Metallica's anti-war ode, One. Over 200 of those by Mr. Bertolleti himself (he was later credited with 191 after judges discounted several peppers deemed "not clean enough").

The competitive eating world is up in arms over this latest gaff. Hard to say how it happened. Most of us know the IFOCE judges and emcees (in this case, Ryan Nerz) are usually pretty squared away and end up putting on a great show overall. Every now and then something like this happens.

So how do we prevent it from happening again? It's a good question. The simple answer is "order more food." That's true, in hindsight, but how much "more" do you order? If you're Ryan Nerz and the sponsor calls you and asks, "How many XYZ's should we bring for tomorrow's contest?", what mathmatical method do you use to arrive at an answer?

Monday, September 17, 2007


Yesterday Heather and I took our little brother, Kavon, to the York Fair, a big swirling festival of rides, games, entertainers, exhibits and food about half an hour south of Harrisburg. So much food, in fact, that the official theme of this year's festivities was "Pig Out." That's all I needed to hear.

So we went and, like most fairs you attend after the age of 25, it was sort of a disappointment. It was kind of crowded and expensive and I left feeling a little dirty. I had a better time watching the Carnies hustle local kids into playing impossible-to-win "throw-the-ball-into-the-big-plastic-bucket" games and counting the pregnant teenagers (Note to York County School Board: Free condoms with school lunches. Look into it.).

Anyhow, about the food. $6.50 Italian sausages and $7.00 cheesesteaks are nice and all, but I was looking for something else. Something different. Something unusual. I didn't really find it. The "Pig Out" theme didn't mean a wide variety of food as much as it meant a whole lot of the same food. There were about 10 cheesesteak/Italian sausage stands (all from the same company), the usual assortment of hot dog/corn dog/hamburger stands and a smattering of pizza vendors. In the end, Kavon would get a cheesesteak and a pretty good cinnamon bun. Heather would grab a corn dog and some fries and I put a hurtin' on a baked potato.

Yeah, that's right. I went to a fair whose theme was "Pig Out" and got a baked potato. In my defense it was big one and it was loaded. And I'd never had a baked potato at a fair, so it seemed like a good choice. Oh, before we left we all shared a pumpkin funnel cake. Gotta have a funnel cake. That's ours sizzling away on the right in the picture below.

Friday, September 14, 2007


They say Guinness draught is chock full of vitamins and nutrients. Enough vitamins and nutrients that a man can subsist on Guinness beer alone. Ryan Nerz told a story in Eat This Book about Crazy Legs Conti living on Guinness for one week on a dare. His prize: a free lunch.
On June 22, 1977, Steve Petrosino (that's him below) walked into a Gingerbread Man bar in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and set a new Guinness Book world record by downing one liter of beer (33 ounces) in 1.3 seconds. His record was retired in 1991 when the good book stopped tracking beer feats (and all eating records soon thereafter).
Since Guinness is a meal replacement, I guess that makes it a food. And that makes Steve Petrosino (or Dr. Petrosino as he's known today) one of the greatest eaters Pennsylvania ever produced. That also makes him a member of the UEPa. Welcome, Dr. P! New guy buys the first round.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The buzz in the tabloids is that the new celebrity diet is baby food (or, according to a headline in the UK edition of Marie Claire magazine, Hollywood is just eating babies). Apparently realizing that they're dangerously close to being cast on the next season of Biggest Loser, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon admit to replacing meals with tiny jars of strained peas and mashed sweet potatoes.

Small, on-the-go containers. Good portion control. Loaded with vitamins and nutrients. It sort of makes sense, except for the whole "tastes like pureed shit" part. It actually reminds me of a personal eating challenge that I still want to do involving 50 jars of various baby food and my old Sesame Street spoon. I may or may not wear a baby bonnet and a bib for that one and I'm still not sure if I'll make airplane sounds with each bite.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I've been thinking a lot lately about the "next step" in eating challenges.

Among existing challenges, there's "How many X's can you eat in Y amount of time?" Sometimes Y equals one minute. Sometimes it's 12 minutes. Other times it can be 30 minutes or an hour. Then there's "How fast can you eat X amount of Z's." In this case X can be three or four items (hot dogs, for instance). Or it can 60 items (in the case of nuggets). It can also be one item (pizzas or giant burgers).

But what's the next step? What hasn't been done before? For me, I think it's something similar to the first equation, only in this instance, Y equals 24 hours. That's right, how many (fill in food items here) can you eat in ONE DAY. From midnight to midnight. Start eating.

It's an interesting concept and one that raises all sorts of questions. For instance:
  • Do you try to sleep during your "eating day" or would sleeping slow down the digestive process?
  • Would a few cat naps be needed to ward off potentially appetite-suppressing exhaustion?
  • After all that constant eating, would a few cat naps be unavoidable?
  • How often would you eat?
  • Would you gorge at "mealtimes?" In this case, midnight, 6am, noon, 6pm and again right before midnight at the end?
  • Or would you eat small meals every two or three hours?
  • Or would you just sit down with all six Star Wars movies and eat CONSTANTLY?
  • If you did eat at certain times throughout the day, what would you do between meals? Nothing? Go for a walk? Drink a special concoction to speed digestion?

These are all valid questions and ones that would surely impact the outcome of this day-long binge fest. I have a few opinions on many of them, but I'm interested to hear from others. Up next: Which food do I eat?

Saturday, September 08, 2007


It's settled. Our next workplace challenge will be pizza. After considering many different food options (including bacon, Fuddrucker's three-pound burgers, wings, Taco Bell tacos (part 2), chocolate, and Old Country Buffet), we settled on pizza because it was the most enticing to new participants, which is always a good thing.

Our contests are usually held on a Friday. Sometimes on our lunch break and sometimes at 5:30 pm in the conference room. This one will be an after work contest held in two or three weeks. The parameters are simple; first to finish one large pie with your choice of one topping, wins. Which leads me to my dilemma: Which topping do I choose? I'm leaning toward pepperoni. Not only is it my favorite, but it seems like of all potential toppings, it would be the smallest in total quantity. Or maybe I'll choose "extra sauce." Does that count?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


National Geographic today announced the coolest science news since...a long time ago. In an article on thier website, the magazine stated that "much like the fearsome star of the Alien movies, moray eels have a second set of toothed jaws that drag prey into their throats."

Drag prey into their throats.

That has to explain how Joey, Koby, Pat and the rest of the A-list competitive eating community are able to consume 50 or 60 hot dogs while the rest of us struggle to ingest 20 (okay, 10).

The article continued, "(The) moray's inner mandibles have elongated muscles that allow for extreme mobility. This unique feature allows the eels to protrude their secondary jaws forward from their throats and into their mouths, where they grasp prey and guide it toward the esophagus."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


One of the biggest annoyances for competitive eating fans and competitive eaters, is the slow, incomplete and often innaccurate reporting of contest results by the IFOCE. It's sort of like heartburn after a chili cheese dog with extra onions (without the Tums). Recently on EatFeats, a nameless commenter noted that "the sponsors have no interest in timely or complete results posted to the IFOCE’s website. You are foolish to think otherwise."

I'm no fool, and neither are the sponsors, which is why that statement is dangerous and indicative of some of the problems facing the IFOCE as it struggles to refine its internet presence.

I think the sponsors should care about timely and complete results. In this age, leveraging the power of the internet in a timely manner after a "real world" event is critical to maximizing their (often sizable) sponsorship investment. If they think they're only paying for the live crowd and a little pre- and post-event buzz from the mainstream media, they're right, but they could be getting so much more for their money.

I'm talking about results posted to the IFOCE website. I'm talking about photos posted along side those results for bloggers to pull down and use at will. I'm talking about cleanly edited video summaries of the contest (with sponsor logos and commentary) uploaded to IFOCE.com, YouTube, GoogleVideo, and other video sharing websites. All of this extends the brand's online presence in ways that allow them to reap exposure long after the contest ends.

If this sounds "a lot" for the IFOCE to do, think again. Any 12-year-old with an hour of spare time on his hands can do all of this and more. The best part is, the IFOCE can bundle all of these elements into one package (call it their Online "Dessert Course") and sell it to sponsors at an additional cost.

At an additional cost. If that doesn't get the attention of the powers-that-be, might I offer a chili cheese dog with extra onions?

Monday, September 03, 2007


Given my recent outing in Hamburg, I shouldn't be in a burger mood, but I am. What can I say, I love them. Sort of like a man who loves the Phillies, even after they betray his affection with a lackluster September year after year to fall just short of another playoff appearance. (Spoken like a true Mets fan.)

I just purchased two hamburger cookbooks on Amazon with the intention of attempting one new burger recipe each month (possibly more) and chronicling my culinary efforts here on Mega Munch. The books are "The Great Big Burger Book: 100 New and Classic Recipes for Mouthwatering Burgers Every Day Every Way" and "Burgers: 50 Recipes Celebrating an American Classic". Considering my love affair with ground beef on a bun, I'm hoping they're the "Kama Sutra" and "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex" of burger books.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Ahh, Hamburg. The site of my very first eating contest two years ago and the impetus for my love of competitive over eating. It's sort of ironic, too, because I always leave Hamburg feeling embarassed and/or angry about my performance.

Today the UEPa converged on Hamburg for its annual Taste of Hamburg-er Festival Hamburger Eating Competition. In the end, Ian "The Invader" Hickman would cruise to a victory with 13 hamburgers eaten in 8 minutes. Carey "The Powerhouse" Poehlmann finished second with 9 burgers and buns, and I did my best to shame myself in Hamburg once again with a whopping 5-and-a-half burgers eaten. That's not good. I think I need to starting doing things like "practicing" and "training" in order to get "better." Right now my training consists of "getting hungry," and it ain't really working.

Forgetable performances aside, it was still a fun time and always nice to see the guys. Pete Miernicki made the trip up from Philly to cheer us on and Ian's brother Trey was on hand to videotape the performance. Pictured below is Carey, Brian, me and Ian. Brian, a local eater in his first ever contest, ate 7-and-a-half burgers and is the newest member of the UEPa. Welcome to the club, Brian! Don't forget to pick up your uniform.

A full set of pics can be seen here. Don't miss the shots of Ian's ponytail and the entries from the kid's "Meat Molding Contest" that took place right before the eating showdown. Mmmm...molded meat.
UPDATE: An article about the contest from the Reading Eagle can be seen here. That fish-eyed picture of us is cool.