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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


So the UEPa is trying to figure out when our next meeting is, but before we determine when we need to also nail down where. Sean Gordon mentioned a possible trip to Dennys in November (is that still happening Sean?), but a recent team hamburger eating contest at Dennys came and went without a UEPa invite, leaving all of us feeling a little jilted.

Enter honorary PA resident and UEPa member, Ian Hickman. In a comment to a recent post, Mr. Whoopie (he prefers "Mr. Pie," but for different reasons), mentioned a somehow overlooked mecca of mega-sized meals called Niner Diner. The potential meeting place is located in the awesomely-named Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania, which is about two-and-a-half hours west of Harrisburg and 90 minutes east of Pittsburgh.

Of course, it also features a giant burger challenge. Twenty-two bucks gets you a three pound burger and five pounds of fries. Eat it all in two hours and it's free. Check out the menu here. They've also got a "hubcap pancakes" menu option which, at just $5.99, has to be the cheapest giant food challenge ever. How the hell have I never heard about this place?!

So the question is, if our next meeting isn't at Dennys (don't worry, we'll be back next summer), when are we going to the Niner Diner? I'll get us started by throwing out some Saturday's when I'm free: November 17, December 1, December 8, December 15 and December 29. January is mostly up-for-grabs too, but I'm hungry, so let's see if we can get this thing on the '07 calendar.

Any of those dates work for anyone else? And for our ranked IFOCE UEPa members, don't worry, you can come along and "watch."

Monday, October 29, 2007


Thanks to Skinnyboy and the ol' "video tape the TV" trick, the eating portion of the Krystal Square Off is on YouTube. Check it out below.

My favorite part, which I rewound on TiVo to watch twice when I watched it live, is the shot of Eater X at the +1:13 mark popping Krystals into his mouth like Milk Duds. (That's the -7:23 mark for those of you watching here. Why does YouTube reverse the counter on embedded videos?)

One, two, three, four. It's almost like each one pushes the one before it down his throat. It's amazing. And clean too. Witnessing X's technique is a very welcome break after watching other eaters drench their burgers and seeing bread and debris streaming off of their hands and onto the table and floor.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Sean Gordon passed along a link to a blog featuring a pizza topped with various McDonald's menu items. A little sauce, two cheeseburgers, a handful of fries, five or six chicken nuggets and topped with a healthy layer of mozzarella cheese. Below is a photo of the culinary masterpiece before the cheese and oven sealed the deal. I'd like to try this myself. The only question is, which restaurants and toppings do I choose?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


After having been inside the sport for a while, I've noticed that the Wikipedia entry for "competitive eating" really doesn't do the subject any justice. At first I thought I was being too critical because, again, I'm "inside the sport" but then I thought, isn't that was a good Wikipedia entry is supposed to do...offer an inside perspective on a subject?

Overall the entry just seems really light on history and information about current eaters. The "Famous Eaters" section gushes about some guy named Peter Dowdeswell who broke all sorts of Guinness records, but I've never really heard of him. Then it talks about some schmuck named Daniel Jankelow who is "one of the most competitive eaters to have ever competed." That's obviously a personal addition to the page by, lemme guess, Dan Jankelow.

Long story short, the page needs some work and I'm going to make it my personal mission before the end of the year to clean it up. And don't even get me started on the "List of Record Setting Competitive Eaters" page. (Eddie "The Bear" Woofson drank 36 gallons of "mann custard" in 34 minutes? That's wrong on so many levels.)

I'll keep you updated on additions I make to the CE page. In the meantime, take a look at it and let me know what you think it needs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


While driving home from Maine earlier this month, I stopped in Groton, Connecticut, home of the nation's oldest submarine base and where I spent all six-and-a-half years of my Naval career. Carey knows it well. He and I were stationed on the same submarine there. (Carey, check out the dates on some of of those pics and the photographer on a few of the last ones.)

While we were there, we grabbed lunch. I had my heart set on IHOP (the site of many a late night and early drunken morning meal after a night out at the enlisted club or clubbing in Providence), but the IHOP had been replaced by a friggin' Advance Auto Parts. So we settled on a Chinese buffet. Below was the fortune Heather received in her cookie.

Any other time it would have just been weird, but after being away from our house for awhile, it made me pretty nervous. Adding the old "in bed" trick to the end only made it worse.

Bad fortune

According to a New York Times article, the ominous prediction is the result of recent attempts by the nation's largest fortune cookie manufacturer to freshen up its fortunes with "more contemporary" insight. Turns out the assholes were wrong. I laughed then and again when I got home. (But not in bed.)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Below is the video of this weekend's whoopie pie contest shot by Ian's brother. It focuses on Ian (of course), but to his right is me bobbin' and weavin'. I was dunking my pies in milk (off camera), but at the 17-second mark you'll see me make a rookie mistake: I forgot to take the cap off my water before the contest. My error cost me valuble seconds and probably knocked about 10 or 15 pies off my total. (Enjoy your tainted second place finish Sean Gordon!)

What's cool about this video, and what makes it so different from any other CE video you'll see, is that it includes the entire contest AND the announcement of the results. It's good that they were able to make the announcement mere seconds after the contest ended.

WARNING: Staring directly at Ian's shirt for more than 10 seconds may cause temporary blindness, seizures, hypnosis, loss of appetite or all of the above.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The scene was the annual Whoopie Pie Festival in Lancaster. It was a breezy, overcast day and somewhat chilly. I parked my car and 10 feet in front of me was Gooey Sean Gordon, two time amateur round shoofly pie champ and a man who had eaten 22 mini whoopie pies during last year's contest. After we chatted, I headed toward the festival. Sitting in the front row on an old backless wooden bench facing an empty stage was Ian Hickman and his brother. In 2006, Ian ate a record 36 whoppie pies in three minutes.

Ian and I talked about whoopie pies, AICE, IFOCE, strategy, movies, our next contests, and his fondness for Asian women while we killed an hour before the contest started.

WHOOPIE - Kids winning eater

It was time for the 12-years-and-under round. The kids filed up onto the stage three at a time. There was, after all, only one table. The announcer was able to keep the crowd engaged through the first few three-minute heats, but by the 12th heat (no kidding, those kids just kept lining up), the announcer and the crowd had cooled, much like the gusting wind that was blowing half full plates of mini whoopie pies off the table every so often. The winning junior was a 10-year-old from New Jersey named Kyle (above) who ate 17 pies.

Seventy minutes after the kid's round started, the "seniors round" began. Ian had discussed the details with the contest organizer: he, I and Sean Gordon would eat together and last. In all, 11 adults competed, with Ian, Sean and I being the top finishers. One guy tied with me, but I can't remember his name. If you're reading this, leave a comment!

WHOOPIE - Getting ready

Here we are getting ready. Each eater was given a choice: milk or water. Ian went with water, Sean and I chose milk. Before making my decision, I turned to Sean and asked an important question: Is it whole milk? I was, after all, concerned about extra fat and calories. Thankfully it was skim.

WHOOPIE - Three Eaters

And then it was over. I would eat 30 pies, a few more than I thought I would. Sean downed 46 to take second place and Ian put up a monster performance by downing one pie every three seconds for a total of SIXTY whoopie pies. The crowd was stunned. We were sticky. Thirty minutes later, Ian and his brother spent part of his prize by hitting the country-style buffet at the hotel restaurant which hosted the contest.

A full set of pics can be seen here. Ian's brother got a video of the winning performance (with me to his right). I'll post that as soon as they upload it to YouTube.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I’ve reached a conclusion regarding stuffed burgers: They’re overrated. Seriously. What are you stuffing in a burger that you couldn’t just as easily put on top? Besides, why hide those goodies inside when they’d look so much better out in the open for all to see?

That was my dilemma when I made apple bacon stuffed blue cheese burgers a few days ago. I’ve tried the stuffed route before and it always turns out the same way. The two halves of the burger end up hemorrhaging their contents and/or splitting apart during the cooking process. Oh well, it all ends up in the same place, right?

Main Ingredients

Here are the main ingredients. One Fuji apple (later sliced and placed on top of the burger about a minute before coming off the grill), dried sage and thyme (added to the meat along with some S&P), crumbled blue cheese and, of course, thick cut smoked bacon. The recipe called for apple smoked bacon, but I couldn’t find it and that just seemed redundant considering an apple was already part of the formula.

Stuffing the burgers

Four quarter-pound patties are topped with blue cheese and another quarter pound patty was placed on top. I took my time mashing and sealing the edges to prevent separation and leakage, but it didn’t work. Also, for some reason, the inside of these burgers didn’t cook very well either. Perhaps the blue cheese altered the heat convection process somehow.

Apple Bacon Blue Cheese Burger

Here’s the final product. In addition to the bacon and apple, I topped the burgers with some mayo, ketchup and a spoonful of Grey Poupon coarse ground mustard between a buttered and toasted roll. Overall, the burgers were just okay. I sort of forgot that I’m not too crazy about blue cheese. Maybe it’s the moldy sweat sock taste. I’m not sure. I did like the apple though. Its crispness and sweetness provided a nice balance between the dominance of meat and cheese.

I never thought I’d say this, but for future burger recipes, I should try using less meat. Yes, less meat. Although the recipe called for half a pound of ground chuck per burger, it always seems as though the burger ends up like a meatball (maybe I need to flatten the patties more) and overwhelms the sandwich and its other content flavors. I really don’t know how Denny does it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Today I saw an anal probe that would have made E.T. blush. It was called the Spirus. It resembled a four foot long, flexible light saber with a corkscrew attachment on the end. Upon spotting it and realizing what it was, I had to resist the urge to drop my messenger bag and run screaming in the opposite direction.

Let me back up a bit. Today I attended the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual trade show in Philadelphia. Nothing but colon, stomach and esophageal doctors as far as the eye could see. And me. I was there because one of our clients was there. I was sent to do “industry research.”

As a competitive eater, I felt a little awkward in the midst of so many digestive system experts. Me in my suit with my little secret. If they knew, I might have been banished. Or probed with the Spirus. I kept my secret to myself as I walked past the Celebrex booth, past the Prevacid booth and past the booth displaying a product called the Tushower (it’s a combination of two words, figure it out).

I wandered over to the area of the trade show featuring case studies of various gastrointestinal maladies assembled by medical teams from around the world. Big four by five foot posters explained “Patient A” and what ails him and then went on to explain how they made him right again. I didn’t understand any of it.

The case studies were categorized by area of the body: Colon studies, liver studies, studies of the small intestine and pancreas. Thinking I’d find something I might understand and be able to apply to competitive eating, I rushed over to the stomach and esophagus sections. Nothing but more words I didn’t understand and pictures I didn’t want to look at. “Esophagus: Endoscopic Full Thickness Plication for GERD” read one.

The only thing that even remotely resembled something related to CE was a study called “Human Small Intestine Anisakiasis Due to Consumption of Raw Sardines”. It was the result of work by several Japanese doctors including two named Kobayashi. Lesson learned: Eating sashimi can cause little worms to grow in your intestines.

I left the conference after a few hours of wandering and chatting. With my appetite somehow still intact, I walked across the street to the Reading Terminal Market and grabbed a cheesesteak with whiz and onions at Rick’s, which I ate while reading a framed and yellowed Philly Inquirer article from 1951 about Pat Olivieri. I was back in familiar territory. And not a light saber anal probe in sight.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Just in case the whooopie pie contest organizer is scouring the internet, searching for coverage of her upcoming Whooopie Pie Festival, I'm going to intentially misspell the word whooopie throughout this post. Hopefully Google is dumb enough not to take things like that into consideration if and when she performs said search.

Why do I care? Because at last year's festival, she got super pissed off at Ian Hickman when he swooped in and ate 36 mini-pies during the festival's whooopie pie eating contest to take the title. He put on an awesome show and, for some reason, that didn't sit too well with her. Well, that and he snuck past her "no professionals" rule. That sneaky sonofabitch.

I'm not a professional eater (whatever that is), so I don't have anything to worry about with my entry into this year's contest. Still, I'd rather her not see this post, just in case it angers her even more and she decides to blacklist me and anyone else who looks remotely hungry and focused.

Game time is this Saturday at 2:30 at Hershey Farms in Lancaster (right next door to the Rockvale Outlets where the IFOCE shoofly contest was held). I'm calling tomorrow to inquire about sign-up procedures. Something tells me I'll have to initiate the conversation with another topic (the scheduled appearance of the world's largest whoopie pie, perhaps?) and transition seemlessly into talk of the eating contest. All while appearing mildly disinterested. Don't want to seem too eager. That's what pros do.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Another intern, another trip to Fuddruckers for the annual intern challenge. The challenge? A one-pound burger. Becca "couldn't eat" ground beef, so we we comprimised by letting her substitute three 7-ounce chicken breasts on a big burger bun. Yeah, I know that equals 21 ounces, but that's how it is when you dis the cow.

BURGER - All that's left

Believe or not, she ended up eating the whole thing, minus the two little pieces of bread you see in the pic above. We were willing to overlook the scraps, considering she downed an extra five ounces of chicken. If you heard her fretting in the days and weeks leading up to this contest, you'd think she wouldn't be able to get through a quarter of this thing, but I always knew she could do it.

A full set of pictures is here. You may remember our last intern trip to the Fudd ("The One with the Crickets"). You might not remember the one before that, because it was my first post ever on this blog.

Friday, October 12, 2007


As long as I've been a CE fan and eater, the sport has always been loosely compared to WWF style wrestling (yes, I know it's WWE now, but it'll always be WWF to me). Roughly translated: both are individual "sports" (in quotation marks because...are they really?), both feature mostly men and some women attempting feats that seem impossible and somehow unreal, and both are heavy on personality and schtick.

But how important is "personality and schtick" when it comes to being a successful eater? Philly Guy made a point on that last post when he said "you don't need to have a gimmick (to have) charisma. Pat, Rick, and Kobe aren't dancing around in dumb costumes and acting like fools and people love them. I'm not a fan of making the MLE the WWE."

I hear what the Philly Guy is dishing out, but I'd contend that Pat, Rick (?), and Koby have trancended the need to pour on the personality by using their awesome eating powers. Unfortunately, we're not all blessed with the ability to eat 21 pounds of grits in one sitting.

Maybe it's like this: Your success as an eater/entertainer (remember, in the end, every contest is about entertaining a crowd) is based on an unseen eater report card. Maybe that report card looks like this:

  • "THE KOBY FACTOR" - This is based on physical eating ability. What kind of numbers you can put up that will leave the audience in shock and grab the attention of the media? Those who rely heavily on this area: Joey, Chip, Bob Shoudt, Pat Bertoletti.
  • "THE CRAZY LEGS FACTOR" - What is your ability to entertain and engage the crowd? How memorable are you, regardless of how many hot dogs you can eat? (Though some still eat a lot of hot dogs.) Eaters who excel here: Dale Boone, Tim Janus, El Toro, Pat Philbin.
  • "THE LEFEVRE FACTOR" - How likeable are you? This is closely related to the Crazy Legs Factor, but includes an eater's ability to connect with fans and make them like you--and competitive eating--before you even take a bite. Stars here include Sonya Thomas, Steakbellie, Juliet Lee.
Most eaters have a little bit of all three. Some eaters specialize in one over the others. And some, like Eater X, are triple threats, with high scores in every category.

My point is, if you begin to rate eaters based on these categories, you can begin to see why some eaters were chosen for the Spike contest and how some eaters are actually more valuable performers than higher ranked guys like Joey Chestnut and, dare I say, Takeru Kobayashi? I've said it before and I'll say it again, If I were starting a new CE league and had the opportunity to draft one MLE eater, it would be either Eater X or Crazy Legs. Then I'd hire Vince McMahon as my league president.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


It seems like half the competitive eating community (or one guy using seven aliases on Eat Feats) has their bibs in a bunch over how the 16 eaters were chosen for the Wedges & Wings contest that was taped last night in Las Vegas and will air tonight on Spike.

I'm not really sure what time it's on. For some reason, OJ is keeping that a secret and the stupid Spike website requires some sort of Flash plug-in that I don't have. Don't bother going to any of the IFOCE's 5 websites, you won't find any info there either. (Really? A nationally televised appearance not announced on the MLE web-o-websites? That must be what they call "stealth marketing.")

Anyhow, the knee jerk consensus about how the W&W eaters should have been chosen is that the MLE should have simply extended an invitation to the top 16 ranked eaters. Critic(s) complain that the Shea's "pick and choose" strategy is bullshit and it's putting "a gap" between many of the eaters. Obviously, these naysayers are miffed that they themselves didn't get chosen. They're either a top 16 eater trying to rationalize why they should've been invited or a lower ranked eater suggesting a numbers-based system that would spare them the agony of wondering why they weren't picked. (Beautiful Brian had a good comment on this "why not me?" mentality earlier this week on EatFeats.)

Here's my take: It's a nationally televised show. The 16 eaters chosen to represent this weird sport should be chosen wisely. That doesn't always mean they should be chosen based on eating ability. Personality and appearance matter, and not all of the top ranked eaters have that.

I would even go so far as to say that choosing a few lower ranked eaters who might put up relatively small numbers (assuming the numbers are televised) is a wise decision. The reason being, it's good for recruitment. Guys sitting at home will watch Joey and Koby and Pat and be amazed---possibly disgusted---at the numbers they put up. They'd think to themselves, "I could never eat that much." But show us a more "human" eating performance and the competitive eater inside everyone one of us will grab a fork and say, "I can do that!"

I don't agree with a lot of the things the Shea's do, but I trust them on this one. In the end, the success of this show (as measured by how excited or inspired viewers are about CE) benefits everyone in competitive eating---fans, eaters, sponsors and the Sheas. It's the classic "more fans equal more sponsors and more money" scenario. If that means Allen Goldstein (#14) and Frank Wach (#46) don't eat, so be it. Allen and Frank will be better off for it in the long run.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


MAINE - Dinner

More memories from Maine. These are cheddarwursts sizzling away on our campfire.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Just got back from Maine. Heather and I were up there for a few days camping and eating lobster. That's good stuff, especially when you get a toasted sub stuffed with nothing but lobster meat, but I'll stick with beef. Or lamb. While we were in Portland, we stopped by a brewpub (support your local brewpub!) called Gritty McDuffs. I ordered a a Gritty's Best Brown Ale (below) and a lamb burger topped with feta cheese. Heather got the fish and chips and a classic pub style brew.

MAINE - Gritty McDuffs

Thursday, October 04, 2007


October is here. That means playoff baseball (fucking Mets), tailgating at football games and cooler weather around the corner. It also means Wing Bowl is drawing nearer. And if you've ever partied from 10pm till 5am in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn before Wing Bowl in February, you know it can get pretty cold (but only if you stop drinking).

Wing Bowl or no Wing Bowl, it might be a good idea to pick up a bacon scarf to keep your neck area nice and warm and stylish. You can pick one up over at Shopsin's General Store for $35. While you're at it, pick up some bacon salt from the guys at BaconSalt.com. I've owned some for about three months now and so far I can tell you, it's pretty much replaced regular salt (which I used to love) in my daily diet. Seriously, those salt people should consider adding some flavor to that stuff because once Cheese Salt is invented, it's pretty much over for them.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


The last week or so has been busy for competitive eating, both on and off the table. Dale Boone got pissed off at a cookie contest and was DQ'd (or banned, says Eat Feats...not sure which is right) for "bad sportsmanship." Cookie Jarvis isn't happy about the IFOCE using his personal home videos in some MLE DVD. He might have a case---IFOCE contract be damned---but does he have the appetite to press the issue?

But the biggest news isn't Gal Sone's new toilet paper (thanks for that one OJ), it's Pat Bertoletti downing TWENTY ONE POUNDS of grits in Saturday's Louisiana Downs World Grits Eating Championship. Twenty one. I really don't know what to say about that, other than Eater X also ate TWENTY POUNDS to BEAT Joey Chestnut. Unbelievable.

With that, I scoured the EatFeats database and came up with following list of every 10 pound eating performance in competitive eating history. If you haven't already guessed, Pat's 21 lb outing is the most gross weight ever consumed in a contest. Here's the list. I'm sure I'm missing a few entries, so if I am, please let me know.

21 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Pat Bertoletti
20 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Tim Janus
20 lbs of rice balls (30 min) (date unk.) - Takeru Kobayashi*
19 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Joey Chestnut
18.5 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Sonya Thomas
15.5 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Hall Hunt
15.25 lbs of shortcake (10 min) (6/17/07) - Pat Bertoletti
13.5 lbs of shortcake (10 min) (6/17/07) - Tim Janus
13.5 lbs of grits (10 min) (9/29/07) - Patrick Van Dam
13.1 lbs of watermelon (15 min) (7/30/05) - Jim Reeves
13.0 lbs of pasta (14 min) (7/11/05) - Takeru Kobayashi
13.0 lbs of watermelon (15 min) (7/30/05) - Rich Lefevre
12.9 lbs of watermelon (15 min) (7/30/05) - Pat Bertoletti
11.3 lbs of lobster (12 min) (8/13/05) - Sonya Thomas
11.22 lbs of watermelon (15 min) (7/24/04) - Rich Lefevre
11.1 lbs of shoofly pie (8 min) (6/23/07) - Pat Bertoletti
10.8 lbs of key lime pie (8 min) (3/21/06) - Pat Bertoletti
10.2 lbs of key lime pie (8 min) (3/21/06) - Tim Janus
10.63 lbs of corned beef & cabbage (10 min) (3/16/07) - Pat Bertoletti
10.63 lbs of corned beef & cabbage (10 min) (3/16/07) - Joey Chestnut
10.37 lbs of chili (10 min) (10/4/03) - Rich Lefevre
10.37 lbs of chili (10 min) (10/5/02) - Rich Lefevre
10.3 lbs meatballs (12 min) (12/3/05) - Sonya Thomas
10.0 lbs of pasta (14 min) (7/11/05) - Sonya Thomas

* per IFOCE.com records page

A few notes about this list. Of the 24 entries, Pat Bertoletti owns six, Rich LeFevre and Sonya Thomas four, and Tim Janus has three. In all three of Janus' performances, he finished second to Pat Bertoletti. The first recorded 10 pound performance was Rich Lefevre's 10.37 pounds of chili in 2002 (a mark he would somehow tie the following year). Twenty-five percent (6) of history's 10-pound performances were put up in Saturday's grits contest.