Sunday, January 17, 2010

just a green salad, please

After briefly touching on the subject of competitive eating in an earlier post, I was sent (in an unconnected incident) a number of links to news articles about the ongoing struggle to produce the world's biggest burger. The last one seems to be the current record holder at a little over 13 stone; if you don't fancy trekking over to Mallie's Sports Bar just outside Detroit, for around $2000 you can have one cooked, frozen and delivered to your home, where you can then use it as an occasional table or something.

The world of competitive eating is a strange one, and it won't surprise you at all to learn that it's the Americans and the Japanese who really embrace it in a big way - the Americans because they are great big fat greedy bastards, and the Japanese because they are mental. Interestingly there's been a shift in the competitor profile in recent years from the stereotypical gargantuan (and typically male) gutbuckets to smaller competitors, including some quite petite ladies like Sonya Thomas (no relation) - the explanation presumably being that not wearing a foot-thick belt of calcified beef dripping round your midsection allows the stomach to expand more freely while you're stuffing hotdogs down your gullet. Presumably these people must also have freakishly high metabolic rates, or fast between contests, or more likely both. Current world rankings can be found here. The Kodiak bear featured in this hot-dog eating contest doesn't appear to have a ranking at the moment.

The Guinness Book of Records slimmed down (if you will) its eating and drinking records section in the early 1990s among concerns about getting sued by people attempting to eat thirty pounds of oysters and exploding in the attempt. Before this, though, and certainly in my 1981 copy of the book (pictured), most of the significant records were held by Briton Peter Dowdeswell, including some pretty revolting ones like a pound of Cheddar cheese, a pound of gherkins, and a two-pound haggis (each of which took around a minute), and some more ill-advised sounding drink-based ones like a 3.5-pint yard of champagne in 14 seconds, and 34 pints of beer (that's THIRTY-FOUR pints) in an hour. And I bet he didn't even need the lavvy, neither. Remarkably Dowdeswell is not only still alive, but is still available for charity events. You provide a skip full of condemned ham, and he'll eat it for you.

Guinness may not ratify this sort of record any more, but other semi-official bodies exist that will be quite happy to give you a certificate after you attempt to drink a hogshead of port through your nose.

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