Our News is Written in Stone™
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tim "Eater X" Janus Set World Sushi Eating Record 141 Pieces Downed in Six Minutes at Press Event for Major League Eating: The Game for WiiWare
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. - Apr 30, 2008 - Ingestion history has been made. Friday, April 11, 2008 professional eater, Tim 'Eater X' Janus, set the world sushi eating record with 141 pieces of sushi eaten in six minutes at a San Francisco press event to preview the upcoming WiiWare title, Major League Eating: The Game.
Mastiff, international publisher of videogames and interactive entertainment, under license of Major League Eating (MLE) and the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) has created Major League Eating: The Game, which will makes its debut as an exclusive on WiiWare TM , Nintendo's new downloadable game service for the Wii TM console, which launches May 12 in North America. The game will make extensive use of the Wii Remote TM to simulate the fast and furious action of a professional eating competition.
From the lovelySpanish Suite of the Clift hotel in the surprisingly sunny and warm city of San Francisco, CA, Tim Janus, a 31-year-old professional stock trader from New York, NY is the IFOCE's fourth ranked eater in the world. In addition to the record he set last week for sushi eating, Janus also holds eating records for consuming tamales, burritos, cannoli, and ramen noodles.
Starting next month, Mastiff is giving gamers a chance to take a bite out of that title and many others from the comforts of their own home with Major League Eating: The Game for Wii's upcoming new WiiWare TM channel.
Like the Turducken, Major League Eating: The Game is jam packed with a cornucopia of fun food action:
• Play as any one of 10 MLE gurgitory athletes and duke it out against the CPU or against a friend, for some two player head-to-head action MLE style.
• Once you have honed your eating skills you can take your game online using Nintendo® W-iFi Connection and chow down against players all over the nation.
• Become MLE champ and post your score to the scoreboard for all to see.
• Over 12 different foods that will satisfy your virtual palate including: Hotdogs, Hamburgers, Watermelon, Pizza, Shrimp, Sushi, Meatballs, Corn on the Cob and more!
• Offensive, defensive and counter attacks allow you to swallow your competition whole.
"With the help of the IFOCE and its eaters we are able to create an enjoyable and what is sure to be memorable new experience for Nintendo's hot new WiiWare channel," said Bill Swartz, Head Woof at Mastiff Games. "Major League Eating: The Game is sure to satisfy the virtual hunger of all gamers looking for something fresh and fun."
For more information please visit the following sites:
Are you ready to Hurl?
Game show titles have a way of telling you exactly what you can expect if you tune in to them. The Price Is Right is about guessing prices, Card Sharks was a game that involved a deck of cards, and Match Game was about matching your word with the word picked by a celebrity. Of course, the whole list of examples breaks down a bit when you consider Jeopardy!, which could be about anything, really.
But add to the list Hurl, the new game show coming this summer to G4. To quote from the network, it's a show that "combines speed-eating with intense physical challenges." Yes, you read that right.
I think the producers are going to try to get these contestants to eat 10 hot dogs then climb rock walls and race around a track. Halfway through the show, the remaining contestants have to eat more food and then do more challenges.
Note: each episode is going to have two "cuisines." Why this isn't on Food Network I'll never know.
I wonder though: will the network show the hurling? Will this be on late night? And most importantly, will G4's web site sell barf bags with the Hurl logo?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Ladies And Gentlemen, The Worst TV Show in the World!
April 29, 2008
I knew this day would come. One day, some network would give the green light to a show, most likely a reality show,which would take the prize as the worst show ever created.
Today, G4 announced a new show that has to be considered a front-runner for that title. Without further ado, I present to you, dear readers, Hurl!
LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2008 — G4 is taking competitive eating competitions to the next level with a new series that combines speed-eating with intense physical challenges. In each episode, five brave contestants attempt to consume the largest quantity of food in a short amount of time and are then immediately subjected to a series of challenges designed to shake them up. The one to hold his or her food down the longest claims victory and walks away with a cash prize, the Iron Stomach Award, and more importantly, serious bragging rights. The half-hour series, "Hurl!" premieres summer 2008 on G4.
The competition is made up of multiple stages, beginning with an intense eating contest. Contestants are challenged to consume a massive portion of some popular All-American favorite, as quickly as they can, with items ranging from chicken pot pies to New England chowder, fish sticks, hot dogs, blueberry pie, and more. Those who devour the largest quantity and keep everything down move on to the second stage where they must face nausea-inducing physical challenges, designed to shake them up – from carnival rides to belly flops off a high dive, to mechanical bull-riding. Each episode features two different cuisines and a new outrageous challenge.
The few survivors remaining who have held on to their stomachs are forced back to the food table, where they must gorge an additional serving of a surprising new menu item. In a comedic and gag-inspiring display, the remaining few desperately try to prevent themselves from getting sick. If the competition is still underway after the second round of eating, they advance to the final tie-breaker stage, heading back to the daunting physical challenge. And this time, for added pressure, the physical challenge introduces a surprise twist, making the final stage especially difficult.
Viewers will laugh and cringe their way through the half-hour show as they witness the eliminations of contestants who can no longer avoid the inevitable queasiness and the often messy celebrations of the new champions.
"G4's mission is to be a multi-media destination that's 'relevant' and 'authentic' to the interests of today's young male demo," said Neal Tiles, president, G4. "'Hurl' is really an idea that is inspired by the world of viral video which has proven to be massively popular with young guys today."
I swear when I read this I thought it was an April fools joke. Perhaps Comcast decided that all of April would be fair game for practical jokes? But no, apparently this is the real deal. SO mark your calendars folks, summer 2008 is when the world will end in a grotesque shower of half-digested foodstuffs.
Chili champion downs 1.3 gallons in 5 minutesSunday, February 17, 2008BY Saimi Rote Bergmann
REPOSITORY FOOD WRITER NORTH CANTON Some folks cheered and some looked queasy as they watched nine grown men do what Mom never let them do as kids — eat as fast as they could, swallow without chewing, let food dribble down their chins and necks, and keep eating until they got sick.
It was standing room only in the canvas-wrapped pavilion at The Sanctuary Golf Club on Saturday for the Midwest Chili Eating Championship. Seven "professionals" and two amateur walk-ons gobbled cup after cup of chili for 5 minutes.
Just as in other types of races, competitive eating features sprinters and marathoners.
"I do better at longer contests," said Ian "The Invader" Hickman, a competitive eater from Washington D.C. "I have good capacity, but not great speed."
He had enough of both Saturday, eating a staggering 1.3 gallons. The skinny 24-year-old downed 131⁄2 12-ounce cups of Wendy's chili, beating his nearest competitor by two cups and setting a world record.
What was Hickman's winning method?
"No chewing, just swallowing," he said.
Chewing was not required, but drinking was forbidden.
"I'm here to make sure there's no cheating," said Dave "Coondog" O'Karma of Cuyahoga Falls, commissioner of the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. "We do picnic style, which means you use a spoon."
O'Karma said the insistence on eating food "normally" distinguishes AICE from the International Federation of Competitive Eating, which allows tricks such as dunking hot dog buns in water to make them easier to eat.
The eating contest was part of the North Canton Rotary Club's 13th Annual Chili Open, a golf-in-the-snow fundraiser. Organizer Brent Fatzinger said he took a risk and added the chili-eating contest last year.
"It's a real hoot, very entertaining. It's not your grandfather's Rotary Club event," Fatzinger admitted. "But even some of the old school Rotary guys enjoyed it even though some were grossed out."
One of the amateur contestants didn't make it through the 5-minute contest. Enough said. The other amateur, Joe Shockling, 49, of Canton Township, said before the contest, "I can eat a lot. I ate the 6-pound steak at Bear Creek, and a whole pie. I might not do worth a dang, but it will be fun." Shockling finished a respectable 61⁄2 cups of chili, nearly 21⁄2 quarts.
At the end of the 5-minute contest, there is a 2-minute "no return" rule. It was an odd interlude, with contestants and audience standing around waiting to see if anyone would, er, "return" the chili. Nobody did.
Defending 2007 champion Mark "The Human Vacuum" Lyle, 37, of Columbus came in second, just edging out Bob "Lord of the Wings" Kuhn of Pittsburgh. Both ate about 111⁄2 cups of chili. Afterwards, Kuhn, 50, shook his head and said, "I'm thinking about retiring."
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sept 4th enter Now!
WestConn to raise funds for, awareness of Darfur... Jello Eating Contest By Jared Sturges CONTRIBUTING WRITER Article Last Updated: 04/28/2008 06:39:10 AM EDT DANBURY -- To raise awareness of the dire situation in Darful, WestConn will hold "Darfur Day" on Wednesday from 2 to 9 p.m. The conflict in Darfur, Sudan -- described as genocide by the U.S. government -- is a struggle between the Janjaweed militia and other tribal groups. Critics have chided Sudan's government for supporting the Janjaweed, which has been accused of human rights violations that include mass killings and the systematic rape of non-Arab inhabitants. In April, the United Nations estimated that 450,000 people have been killed in Darfur due to the violence and disease plaguing its citizens, labeling it "the most complex humanitarian problem on the globe." "A lot of people don't know a lot about Darfur," said Anne Gesauldi, 45, a nontraditional WestConn senior involved in organizing the event. "They know something is going on but don't realize it's genocide." WestConn's "Darfur Day" will feature a variety of events, including pie-throwing and Jello-eating contests, a raffle and a dunk tank, all to raise money and awareness of the conflict. Free food will be served from 5 to 7 p.m., and WXCI. will provide music. An all-day education table will offer more information on the struggle in Darfur. "We can't stop the fight, but we can provide water and education," said Gesauldi. Co-sponsored by the Cartus Corp., Save the Children, and Danbury High School, the event hopes to raise money to build a school for Darfur refugees in Sudan. So far, the Advertisement partnership has raised $33,000, with a goal of raising $100,000 by 2010. "To be able to do some fundraising that will directly have an effect, with Cartus and Save the Children, is enormous," said Tim Salem, assistant principal of Danbury High School. "Essentially, those monies will help to save lives." The event is free, open to the public, and will take place on WestConn's midtown quad, between Osborne and White streets.
Champion chompers plow through ears
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Past rows of stands selling various incarna
tions of corn - popped, frittered, wrapping hot dogs and on the cob - 10 competitive eaters waged an epic battle at the South Florida Fairgrounds Sunday.
Switching from the typewriter method to the tooth scraper and back to the typewriter, 100-pound Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas put away 321/2 ears in 12 minutes, out-eating nine men to become the first female National Sweet Corn-Eating champion.
Thomas, whose nickname is tied to her knack for beating large male competitors, in a string of competitive eating victories, took her place among the 10 contestants. She was half the size of the past two years' winners: Defending champ Crazy Legs Conti, a dreadlocked redhead from New York, grabbed at the air and pulled toward his mouth, practicing the motions of stuffing his face.
Hollywood's own Jammin' Joe LaRue had been exercising his jaw with frozen Tootsie Rolls, the emcee said, and came to reclaim his title from Conti.
Thomas, wearing a pink ball cap and pale purple eye shadow, kept her eyes down as she meticulously unscrewed bottled water caps.
With an emphatic countdown by Major League Eating Chairman George Shea, the long table became a line of corn-devouring strategies: The toilet roll. The bobbing head. The low lean.
A gaggle of T-shirt wearing fans of Jacksonville's Hall "Hoover" Hunt screamed and held posters until a woman from the crowd shouted angrily, "Hey, we can't see with that sign up!"
Three minutes in. Fast-talking, straw hat-wearing Shea turned to Jessica Wittenbrink, Miss South Florida Fair, as she surveyed the flying kernels, yellow-spattered clothes and kernel-encrusted cheeks. Motioning to LaRue's high-speed scrape, he said, "Jessica, would you date Joe LaRue?"
Catching the uncomfortable smile beneath her sparkling crown, he turned back to the crowd. "That's a 'No.''"
As time wound down, the lesser-known eaters began chewing slowly, painfully, before Shea voiced the moment of truth for the hard-core competitors: "Put down your corn."
Wiping their faces, they stared breathlessly at the crowd, leaning over the cob-filled crates and glancing into their neighbors'.
Conti offered orange Tic-Tacs to his rivals before learning he finished third at 30 ears. His 343/4 ears from last year holds the record.
LaRue edged into second with 31 ears. Thomas took home the $1,500 prize and a 3-foot gold trophy with an angel on top. She runs a Burger King back in Virginia and says this was her first corn eating competition.
She likes vegetables, but oysters are still her favorite, she said. She once ate 46 dozen in 10 minutes.
Conti said he harvested a bushel of corn for practice before traveling to South Florida.
"Hoover" said his brother-in-law works as a produce manager and hooked him up.
Thomas, who grew up in South Korea, ate four or five ears just to get the feel for it but said she otherwise came unrehearsed.
She said she eats more than most people but never more than one meal a day and never snacks - to maintain her figure.
Published: April 20, 2008
It's Saturday afternoon at BR Frozen Custard & Sweets, a small store tucked behind a Woodbridge strip mall. Ian "The Invader" Hickman takes swigs of Powerade, preparing to down as many pounds of frozen vanilla custard as he can in six minutes ("In these contests you sweat, you put your body though a lot of stress," Hickman said. "It's like running a marathon, but different.")
Hickman, 25, of Herndon, is one of four professional eaters about to compete for a grand prize of $250. He's not worried about his competition, nor is he jittery about the build up during the kids and amateur competitions before the main event.
He's worried about farting. With so much dairy, a custard-eating contest could quickly turn into that classic scene from "Blazing Saddles." You know the one—all those cowboys sitting around the campfire, eating beans and, well, you get the idea.
He's had gastrointestinal problems before, eating rice curry in Japan on Nippon Television last December.
"My body just reacts differently to different foods," Hickman said. "But with chili, believe it or not, no problem."
No problem, indeed. Chili is just one of the many eating records Hickman holds. He downed 10 pounds of Wendy's chili in five minutes last February in Canton, Ohio.
Hickman could probably pass for a surfer with his skinny physique, longer-than-regulation black hair, wallet chain, sideways baseball cap and beach-style necklaces. Instead, his sport of choice is competitive eating.
"I watch what I eat, I exercise at Gold's Gym," Hickman said. "Every day is not a six-pound banana split, that's just not healthy."
Hickman wasn't kidding about the gym. He spends about 10 hours a week in the gym, doing cardiovascular exercises and weights. He's lost count of how much money he's made eating but estimates thousands of dollars, televisions and DVDs.
Hickman discovered competitive eating his junior year at the University of Kentucky. He ordered 64 oz. steak at a local restaurant. If he could finish the steak in 45 minutes, it would be free. If not, his mom agreed to cough up the $40 as a birthday gift.
"I didn't think I could eat the steak," Hickman said.
Instead, he set a restaurant record. Thanks to his nerves, he polished it off in 19 minutes.
The vanilla BR Frozen Custard they're about to eat is thick, cold, creamy and sweet—and probably difficult to eat quickly. Contestants are given bottles of water to fight brain freeze.
The contest celebrates BR Frozen Custard's two-year anniversary.
"This is the first national custard eating championship," BR Frozen Custard owner Barbara Frank said. "We plan on making it a yearly event."
Frank, 42, owns BR Frozen Custard with her husband Rory Frank, 43.
"We started years ago, we're family ran," Frank said. She sold custard at the Dale City Farmer's Market for many years before opening the Woodbridge store.
Hickman, along with other Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, participates in contests all over the country (and in Japan). Hickman won last year's contest at BR Frozen Custard, which raised $250 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This is the first time AICE is involved in the event.
Listening to emcee and AICE chairman Arnie "Chowhound" Chapman praise Hickman (favored to win) and analyze his skill as an eater is like watching an over-energetic sportscaster, announcing eater stats and strategies. It's silly, sure, but then again, it's not much different from watching John Madden analyze an athlete's prowess with a ball.
The big difference is none of the AICE eaters make their living from competitive eating. But Chapman predicts that one day the top eaters might be able to go full-time, especially if they land corporate sponsorships.
Chapman, 47, is semi-retired from professional eating, but still attends and emcees events all over the country and Japan. In real life, Chapman works as a counselor for the New York State Commission for the Blind. He joked that he got into competitive eating as a "clever way to get out of yard work and avoid responsibilities as a father and husband."
(In fairness, his wife Debbie Chapman does a lot of work on the AICE Web site and attends about a third of the contests.)
Chapman said contests are kept under eight minutes and AICE does not recommend special training or preparation—or that its eaters compete in more than 12 competitions a year. In fact, AICE recommends eaters keep active and eat healthy.
He said businesses understand these competitions are viable marketing tools and AICE contests are safe and inexpensive.
"We think it's silly, we think it's funny," Chapman said. "Really, competitive eating is going back to the sixth grade, my favorite time of my life. … We also think competitive eating, in this time of world crisis and slowing economy, we think it's the perfect comic relief."
About 40 people are out to watch, answer custard and competitive eating trivia and take home door prizes. A few leave after the kids' contest, many more take off after the amateur division. Some stay to watch Hickman—the only Virginia-native competing at the professional level—and the three other pros.
A small handful of kids try their hand, er, spoon, at eating custard. They get two minutes to eat as much custard as possible. Andrew Collins, 10, of Woodbridge looks to be the clear victor.
"Andrew, you were eating like a monster," his sister, Rachel Collins, 8, said. "I can't feel my tongue, it's frozen."
But, most of Andrew's custard wound up on the table (and quite a bit on his shirt). It wasn't enough. He took third, having eaten .39 pounds. The winner, Christian Salazar-Britton, 9, of Dumfries, ate .44 pounds. His strategy?
"I swallowed it," Christian said.
The amateur contest is more intense. Nine people—teenagers and adults—crowd behind the BR counter eyeing their one-pound bowl of custard. The first to finish three pounds in five minutes wins.
The eaters slow down after the first bowl.
James Besser, a 27-year-old Marine Corps engineer from Woodbridge, won the $50 first place prize by eating three pounds in four minutes.
"I just kept shoveling it in," Besser said.
Rory Frank Jr., whose parents own BR, took second, finishing off the custard in 4:40. He spent the rest of the event outside the store, clutching his stomach in pain.
By the time Hickman and the other three professionals step up to the counter and listen to Chapman's long-winded and silly introductions, their three bowls of custard are partially melted.
"What you are going to see today is going to be truly amazing," Chapman tells the remaining crowd. He describes Hickman as "one of the best competitive eaters in the world," and cautions another eater, Elliot "The Savage" Cowley, "You may not eat the bowls."
These guys don't eat. They inhale, vacuum and devour, as Chapman barks the action into a small speaker. About two minutes into the contest Hickman is on his third pound. He's got a bottle of Reese's Peanut Butter Topping by his custard. It's a psychological thing—after a pound or so his mouth is frozen and he will be used to the taste. If he needs, he can top it off with the peanut butter flavor to keep him going strong.
He doesn't need it.
The other eaters alternate standing and crouching. Chris "The American" Schlesinger pauses, says "Oh, my God," burps, and returns to the custard. But Hickman stays low and keeps his back straight.
He's trying to keep his digestive system straight, to avoid trapped air and lost time for burping. Thankfully, he remained flatulence free.
After six long minutes, it's over. Hickman wins, with 5.5 pounds of custard in six minutes. It was close—Cowley finished 5.42 pounds.
"Honestly, it was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be," Hickman said. He's disappointed by his loss of speed when he hit his fourth and fifth bowl. The final bowls hadn't sat out on the counter and were much thicker than the first three.
"I'm eating it like a lollipop," Hickman said.
Hickman's not hungry, but goes with some friends around the corner to Five Guys for a cheeseburger and some Cajun fries. He was planning on returning to BR Custard afterward to try the Thin Mint custard, but that's not exactly what happened while Hickman stood in line at Five Guys.
"It hit me, like I knew it would," Hickman said. "I broke out, in a sweat, headed for the bathroom and the rest of the day was history."
Staff writer Josh Eiserike can be reached at 703-878-8072 or email@example.com.
WANT TO TRY ...
»BR Frozen Custard & Sweets, 4125 Merchant Plaza, Woodbridge
Association of IndepenCompetitive edent Competitive Eaters
College students compete for gastronomic glory
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
April 19, 2008
The 12 men and one woman who stuffed as many french fries in their mouths as fast as humanly possible had, at times, that familiar look people get at the Thanksgiving table.
SCOTT LINNETT / Union-Tribune
Mesa College student Ryan McMillan plowed through a plate of french fries last night at RT's Longboard Grill in Pacific Beach to reach the finals of the first-ever Collegiate Nationals Eating Championship.
SCOTT LINNETT / Union-Tribune
Josh Ballard had to take a time out last night at RT's Longboard Grill after powering down french fries en route to the finals of the Collegiate Nationals Eating Championship. Competitive eating has now reached the college level.
They groaned. They burped. And they went back at it.
But this was no holiday feast. This was sport. A chance for the Big Time – or the Big Enchilada, if you will.
They were chewing and swallowing and burping and holding back possible regurgitation for a shot to go to the first-ever Collegiate Nationals Eating Championship, to be held today at Mission Beach.
The four finalists at last night's qualifying event at RT's Longboard Grill in Pacific Beach will now compete against each other and four of the top collegiate eaters from throughout the nation. The event, along with other Collegiate National competitions, such as volleyball, will even be on TV, on CBS and the CBS College Sports Network in May.
So they chowed, crammed and devoured.
And Ryan McMillan, 25, won. He cleaned up 2 pounds of french fries in 3 minutes and 18 seconds, and he doesn't even like fries. But the Mesa College student is 6 feet 5 inches and 240 pounds, and said, “I've never been full in my life.”
Competitive eating has now reached the college level. While students have been known to eat like this without needing such things as a referee, a time clock and a cheering crowd, it still raises eyebrows.
We're a fat nation, and getting fatter. And such events don't exactly celebrate restraint.
“It sets a poor example of us as a society,” said Michael Lee, a physician with the Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management who deals with people suffering from a range of eating disorders.
“I tell them every day to moderate, and they turn on the TV and see this highly publicized event glorifying and rewarding this kind of behavior,” he said.
Such contests used to be kind of innocent, like a pie-eating contest at the county fair, Lee said.
Now it's called competitive eating. In addition to inhaling hot dogs, people battle to see who can eat the most fudge brownies, strawberries, German dumplings, zucchini (yuck) or frog legs (major yuck).
Now people train for these events. They travel. They make money. Some, such as Takeru Kobayashi, who won the Nathan's International July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest six years straight, are famous.
Arnie Chapman, chairman of the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, a partner in the event, was present last night and discounted the criticism. He's a former competitive eater who holds the world record for eating pickles – 2.94 pounds in 3 minutes, 45 seconds.
“The beautiful thing about living in America is that you can do things that are edgy,” Chapman said.
The best competitive eaters aren't overweight, he said. They eat healthy and work out to prepare for such events.
At this one, “picnic rules” were in place, which meant contestants couldn't mash, dunk or manipulate the food. The competitors – or “food warriors,” as they were called – had to eat like normal people. Only much, much faster.
| Collegiate Eating Competition |
When: 5:30 to 6 p.m. today
Where: WaveHouse at Belmont Park, 3146 Mission Blvd.
Admission: Free. A music festival follows that is also open to the public.
Some seemed like naturals. Darrin Wolff, 28, a student at San Diego City College, cleaned his plate in just under five minutes, good enough to get him into today's event. He has watched Kobayashi on TV and tried to mimic his technique of alternating between bites and drinks of water.
“I can handle a lot of food,” Wolff said.
The other two finalists who will gorge today are Chris Hanson from Grossmont College and Josh Ballard from San Diego State University.
The only woman competing last night, Maggie Prowell, 18, of Colorado Mountain College, had a simple reason for signing up: “I'm hungry.” But not hungry enough. She wasn't a finalist.
Matt Redmond, 22, didn't exactly eat up the competition either. The University of California San Diego student couldn't finish his 2-pound plate of fries in the nine minutes allowed.
Then again, Redmond had no big aspirations. “I figured it was an opportunity to get a free meal,” he said.
But alas, there's no free meal. During the competition, Redmond felt close to throwing up, he said.
“I said to myself, 'This is not worth it.' ”
The 60-Second Interview: Richard Shea on competitive eating
Brothers Richard and George Shea founded the International Federation of Competitive Eating in 1997, establishing eating contests as a legitimate "sport." The federation hosts eating contests all over the globe, from hot dogs to jalapenos -- and a whole lot of stuff in between -- and has created a legion of international cult superstars and curiosities.
This week, the IFOCE-sanctioned Acme World Oyster Eating Championship -- one of power eating's most prestigious titles -- returns to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Witness the spectacle Saturday starting around noon at the French Market Farmers Market. The competition itself begins around 1 p.m.
I talked with Richard Shea this week about the meaning of it all.
The oyster eating contest returns! This is almost as big as the Neville Brothers finally coming home.
New Orleans is the only city in America where a bunch of people showing up to eat as much food as they possibly can would signify a return to normalcy. We're excited to come back to the French Quarter Festival and to celebrate the levity of life.
Everyone knows the mythology of oysters.
I think the aphrodisiacal nature of oysters is primarily mental. The biological component would be that they are loaded with vitamin E which is good for your system and certainly prepares one for, ahem . . . "relations."
Sonya Thomas from Alexandria, Va, won the World Oyster Eating Contest by eating 36 dozen oysters in 10 minutes in April 2004.
Is competitive eating a sport, you know, like professional wrestling?
Clearly it is a sport. We have our own shows on ESPN. We're regularly covered by the sports pages and sports radio throughout the country. Beyond that, it is as pure a sport as is known to man. Competitive eaters approach their events with the same discipline a focused athlete would.
They study their tapes, prepare their strategy and get physically and mentally prepared. Especially when dealing with oysters: You've got the shell, and you've got to use an oyster fork, so technique will come into play, just like any other sport. Just like in football, you've got domed stadiums and you've got the snow in Green Bay. In competitive eating, there are certain distinctions that the region brings to the game.
So, are these professional athletes we're talking about, or amateurs?
Primarily they're amateurs, primarily they're hobbyists, not unlike bass fishing was years ago. But there is prize money. Some of the top-tier eaters can earn between $40,000 and $100,000 in prize money a year. But, for the most part, they all still have day jobs.
Will we see competitive eating at the Olympics any time soon?
We have approached the International Olympic Committee in the past and they took a rather haughty stance. But they should realize that our Fourth of July hot-dog eating contest at Nathan's gets a better ratings number on ESPN than much of what they broadcast in the Summer Games.
Let's look at the big picture: With all the starving children in Africa, how could you?
First of all, you don't have to go to Africa to find starving children, as anyone living in any metropolitan area knows, especially in New Orleans. It's an interesting society we live in. There's a massive energy crisis, yet NASCAR powers on. There are definitely hunger issues throughout the world, and we power on -- and we're lucky to be able to do so. . . . You have to be cognizant of the challenges others face, but also not be afraid to go out and have some fun.
Now an even bigger picture. Competitive eating: Why?
Why not? In life, you want to benchmark greatness; you want to identify greatness in people. How many strikes can a pitcher throw? How many home runs can a batter hit? And how many oysters can a man eat? It's a never ending need for more and more in this world of ours.
Columnist Chris Rose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at (504) 352-2535 or (504) 826-3309. To read past columns, visit www.nola.com/rose.