Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A bit of knowledge

    
     Well I guess this has been a long time coming. What makes a competitive eater successful? What makes Adam on “Man vs. Food” so good at his job? How does Kobayashi eat over four dozen hot dogs in just twelve minutes?
           
     There are many strategies and 'secrets' I have found through online research to help the layman train for an eating competition or challenge. These gems of knowledge range from small exercises, such as eating a lot of light foods, to drinking tons of water. I want to spend this post talking about tactics to becoming a great eater, record holders in competitive eating, and a bit of why it fascinates me. Enjoy.

  Food                            Record                                                            Holder
Cow brains                   17.7 lbs in 15 minutes                       Takeru Kobayashi
Cheesecake                11 lbs in 9 minutes                             Sonya Thomas
Butter                          7- 1/4 lb sticks in 5 minutes               Donald Lerman
Matzo Balls                 21 baseball sized in 5 min 25sec         Eric Booker
Hot Dogs (w/buns)        53 1/2 in 12 minutes                          Takeru Kobayashi

(Statistics referenced from: http://people.howstuffworks.com/competitive-eating3.htm)
          
     Depending on who you ask, you will get drastically different ideas of what training is effective for competitive eating.  The number one listed element an eater needs is willpower. Even if one trains for weeks to prepare for an event, they stand no chance if they don’t have the guts (or stomach, if you will) to finish. Victory could mean one more hot dog, and if a competitor quits because they are full, then why even take part? There are tons of clich├ęs to back this element up: as Ricky Bobby says “If ya aint first, yer last.” Or, as the old adage goes, “second place is the first loser.”
           
     Next comes strategy. Some eaters are known to drink as much as a gallon of water in one sitting to stretch the elasticity of their stomachs. They finish the gallon in thirty seconds, and repeat this as often as three times a day.
           
     Record holder Sonya Thomas only eats one meal a day and it’s almost always from a buffet. The amount of food she eats usually sits somewhere between five and six pounds in her single meal. Adam Richman, host of Discoveries “Man vs. Food”, does a very intense leg and back workout before each meal to attempt to jump start his metabolism. (ESPN #1)
            
     In other sports, coaches and trainers peddle the same workouts and training, just molded to their personalities. Eating is different. Each individual eater seems to have a different secret to eating their opponents into the ground.
           
     For me, competitive eating is more of a journey than a test. Most times, I honestly think about how good the food is going to taste compared to how much the pain is going to suck (minus the hot wings. That was all pain and suck). More than anything, I just try to remember how stupidly full and content I will be after each food challenge, and await the next time I get to feel that joyous feeling again.
Anyone care to join me?

ESPN #1= (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=angevine/090930)

Edited by: John Lapine
If you like my work, you should check out his blog as well.
http://refriended.wordpress.com/

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Notes...

I have started rating the difficulty of each challenge within their posts. Hope you enjoy!

Also, check this out if you get a chance.

http://www.mlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2011/03/culinary_travel_harkens_back_t.html

Solo Round pt. 2

Between the two of us, Nick claims to be the hot food authority. Every time we meet for lunch, he gets hot peppers on his meal if he can; only complaining slightly about the heat. I, on the other hand, hate hot food. The last challenge with the hot wings almost ruined me, so I let him venture forth on this round solo.

Tuesday 9pm

Nick, Jaclyn and I walk toward the bowling alley entrance discussing this challenge and passing words about the weather. Wings and Things is a small bar and grill located inside the Marquette bowling alley. The hidden sports museum is garnished with memorabilia from most of the local teams. By local teams I mean the big three; Lions and Packers and Bears…oh my!

We stroll into the pub and immediately here the trivia game that is being ‘enjoyed’ by almost all in attendance.

“Number three; Are Zebra’s black with white stripes or white with black stripes,” comes from the small host. I say small and I mean it very literally. This gentleman stands no more than three and a half feet tall and needs to jump to seat himself in his chair. I don’t mention this to…*sigh*… belittle him, because as it stands, he is probably the smartest person in the house.

We sit and joke about the test Nick will soon face. The pizza is aptly named the ‘Sudden Death’ pizza and only a handful of people have actually completed it. Eight slices stand between this titan and glory. We read the poster and it tells of the jalapenos, habaneros, and hot sauce that make this pizza very much sudden and even more death.

To give you a tiny bit of background, a jalapeno pepper usually runs around two thousand and five hundred on the scoville scale (the official scale used to measure pepper and chili heat index). A habanero sits anywhere between one hundred and fifty thousand to five hundred and seventy five thousand on that same scale and who knows what was in their hot sauce. This stuff is no joke!
Our waitress comes to the table and takes our drink orders in a rush and then disappears into the kitchen.

“Well that was kind of rude,” I mumble. “So Nick, what do you think are your chances of actually completing this thing and not wimping out?”

“This is going to be cake. I am going to dominate this thing and reign victorious,” he shouts drawing attention to our table.

Back with our drinks, the waitress takes the order of sudden death and a glass of milk. As she walks away, we can tell she has already seen the foreshadowing.

Five minutes go by and we argue over answers to trivia as does almost every other table.

“I think that little guy is giving me the stink eye,” Nick says looking into the distance.
“Umm…which one,” Jaclyn returns as we both turn to look.
“Are you kidding me? The little one. The VERY little one!”
“OHHH, that one,” I chuckle. “Nah, I don’t think he is.”
“Dude that guy better stop looking at me,” Nick replies growing more anxious. “And you better not write in your blog that I was saying stuff about how small he is either!”
I grin.

Our horseman finally returns bringing death with her and the smell fills our area immediately.
“Good god,” is all I can manage to say. I pause and then start the recorder and Jaclyn snaps a few pictures. “Well, dig in champ.”

Nick grabs a slice and a plate. Confidence runs through is veins and sweat rains down his forehead. He takes a bite that erases approximately one third of the piece and we can absolutely see his pain the second he closes his mouth.

“Holy sh*t!” he mutters over a mouth of fire. The atmosphere grows tense as he chews the first bit and swallows. Before the food can clear his throat, milk follows.
“Wow! This sucks, but I can do it.”

The second bite goes in and we can see him work it from left to right. Eyes shut, swimming is sweat, our warrior pushes on. Good King Leonidas would be proud, because tonight Nick really is “Dining in hell!”
The first piece and two glasses of milk are finally gone and Nick falters greatly.

“No way am I finishing this,” he breathes.
“Try sandwiching two slices together, oh and Mrs., could we get more milk please?” The waitress nods and heads to the bar.

Sandwiching the slices Nick tries to continue.
“Describe the pain to me you big baby,” I joke.
“Searing.”

One bite goes by and already the sandwich idea is out the window. Fighting still, Nick separates the slices and tries to pull all of the toppings off and eat the crusts and breading first, saving the pain of the peppers until end. We all nod that this is a good choice, but the thought is fleeting. Napkin in hand, one crust filled mouthful later, Nick throws in the towel. Less than three out of the eight pieces were completely eaten.

“Whew,” he stammers and goes to the bar for more milk.
“What a baby,” Jaclyn whispers so Nick cannot hear.  “I’ll finish it.”

Nick returns with his milk to watch our new contender smothering her two slices with ketchup.
“That is really gross,” I wince.
“No, I am just smarter than you guys, obviously,” she returns.
And she’s off; biting and chewing, biting and chewing.

Face flushed as if she has just finished a night of tequila, we can tell that this challenge is harder than we thought.
“How you doing champ?”

No words are spoken. She has resorted to sign language because it hurts to speak. Tears stream down her face and she signs that she is going to vomit.
Our laughter is met with an icy glare, somehow not melted by the food.

“Well, this blows,” I pout. “Food is not making this much fun anymore.”

Challenge rating 5/5
Yooper-1 Food-2



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coming soon...

I guess Nick and I are doing 'Solo Round pt. 2' tonight so I will post about that soon and also what it takes to become a professional eater and current records. Catch you guys tomorrow



(also, the language has been updated to be a bit more PG friendly. hope it helps)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Solo Round pt. 1

Buffalo Wild Wings                                    Marquette, MI                                          2pm Sunday

The challenge itself didn’t seem that daunting on its face value. As the challenge states, its twelve blazing wings in six minutes; no drinks, napkins or touching your face at all. Still, seems easy. I hate hot foods (I think I have mentioned that before), so I did have that reservation. Well I guess it’s a story win or lose.
I called Nick at twelve…twelve thirty….one…and one thirty; no response. The second challenge and we are already missing each other schedule wise. Or he is a giant wimp and doesn’t want to lose. I am hoping for the former or the two.
Doing something like this for me is worrisome, with or without a partner.  Now, solo seems a bit more real.  I think its way harder with no one cheering me on. No Yoopies (Yooper groupies) to chant my name. Oh well, it’s a challenge for a reason.
I walk in the door, already sweating.
“Table for one please.”
“Sure, right this way.”
The waitress seats me next to a family of four or five people, two of them kids. Now I can’t swear out loud. Damn it.
“My name is Jen and I will be your server today,” the chipper brunette squeaks. “Something to drink?”
“Yeah a cherry Pepsi and twelve blazing wings please.” I set my cell phone on the table with the stop watch app ready.
“Twelve blazing wings for just you?” she asks. “I mean, you have had them before right?”
“Nope,” I answer simply.  “I was curious about the blazing challenge.”
“Huh, okay well I will put that order in now then. Good luck,” she says walking away shaking her head.
Who is she to judge me? This seems easy. Five minutes drag by and I am getting more nervous as the time ticks by. Ten minutes now and finally she walks towards me with my wings.
“Did you need napkins?”
“Can’t use ‘em,” I respond with a faux confidence in my voice.
Jen walks away and leaves me to my solitude. I spend a few minutes looking at the family and wondering how the ten-ish year old looking kid would do on this challenge and it makes me laugh. Well it’s now or never.
I ready my phone and my wings, pushing my drink to the side. The clock starts and I grab the first wing, tearing through it like a primitive beast. Holy shit! These things are no joke.
“Whew,” I breathe audibly, making things exponentially worse. Tears and snot begin to fall like raindrops.  Keep chewing josh. Good god, why. Do people actually enjoy these things?
Four wings in and it’s already about two minutes gone by. I have to pick it up.
“How’s it going over here,” Jen snickers. “Can I get you anything else?”
“An order of pickle chips to go please.” Ah, that jerk tricked me! Why would she taunt me into talking? She must know how bad this is!
Four minutes in and nine wings are gone. I rally singing Eye of the Tiger in my head. I have been both tear gassed and pepper sprayed in my life; this is comparable. I wish I couldn’t feel my lips right now, but the pain sears into my brain.
Why didn’t I coat my mouth with wax like I had planned on? Sorry Homer, I guess I failed.
Five-fifteen and I am chewing the bits off of my last wing. I can barely breathe right now because of the chewing and the reaction to the spices.
At five minutes and forty-four seconds I swallow my last bit of chicken and smash my face into my cherry Pepsi. I assume half of the people there that day would say I was drinking the soda and the other half would think I was bathing in it.
Victory is mine…but very short lived.
I rush to the bathroom, still trying to keep my composure. I pray to the porcelain goddess and then wash my face. Whew, at least that’s over now.
A few minutes later I have paid my tab and pickle chips in hand, I head for the door. Suckers, that wasn’t so bad.
Two hours later I change my opinion as I have been in the bathroom twice by now and for about twenty minutes each time. I have officially spent more time letting my wings out of my body than I did putting them in.
Yikes!

Challenge rating 3/5

Yooper-1   Food - 1

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hmmm...

My next challenge is a hot food challenge. I hate hot food. Homer Simpson once coated his entire mouth with candle wax so he could eat the worlds hottest pepper and not burn himself. Strategy? Homer then goes on a peyote type trip and has to follow his spirit animal through the desert for a long while. Still worth the risk?

No heat + peyote trip = one hell of a challenge. anyone have a few spare candles I can borrow? Josey a little St. Vinnies help maybe?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stucko's "Joe Gonzales 'America' Burger"

Stucko’s                                                               8pm                                                       Tuesday Night

The stage was set. Nick and I had trained for this. Push-ups, curls, and Shakespeare. Both mental and emotional perfection were needed to win the opening round of this fight. Nicks girly pink t-shirt the topic of conversation on the way to Stucko’s; we try not to talk about the meal too much.
                  “It’s not pink jerk…its salmon,” Nick fires back at me exiting his boat of a car.
 We head to the door and now the meal and the blog are all we can talk about. Strategy is the only thing that remains. Do we drink the shoop (32 ounce chalice of beer) to get a good buzz on and then eat, or do we slowly use the beer to wash down the meal. Opposite ends of the thought process, Nick decides to drink his beer fast and hope for a good drunk before his meal; I opt for the slow sip.

To give you a bit of setting, Stucko’s is an amazing bar/pub on Third Street in Marquette. It has a homey feel to it, as if the bar from ‘cheers’ has been resurrected and modified for the times. Hard wood floors, sports memorabilia and patron painted ceiling tiles give the hideaway a unique and friendly appeal.
              “Can I start you guys off with something,” our unknowing companion on this journey asks.
              “Two schoops of bud-light please and could you tell us about the burger challenge you guys have here?” I immediately interject with a crackle in my voice.
               “AH, it’s called the Joe Gonzales ‘American’ burger,” Chris, out waiter, says with a smirk. “I’m just going to give you a menu and let you read about it.”

Nick and I both open to the page listing the challenge. “1 pound burger topped w/a ¼ pound beef hot dog, 3 slices of bacon, 3 slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato & served with a pound of fries!
Joe finished this and a shoop in 7 minutes and 37 seconds on 9-12-10!”
                   “Give me a break!” I moan to Nick as his reading catches up with mine.
                “We got this man,” he fires back, hidden doubt pouring out with his words.

Chris returns and takes our orders. Today is not about the time, it’s about completion. We are not here to set a record; we are here to find out what we are made of…
A waitress comes out from behind the bar with our plates, “I am just going to show these to this table over here really quick if you don’t mind.”
                 “Take your time,” I say trying to be as cool and collected as I can.
A hush falls over their table as they all stare into the beast that is our meal.
                 “You’re going to eat all of that,” the man with glasses turns and questions.
                 “Ha, damn straight we are,” Nick smirks back.
A few of the group come over and ask to take pictures and write about our meal. They are from ‘Travel Michigan’ and now the stakes are much higher than before. The offer is given to me to write as a celebrity blogger on my Yooper vs. Food travels. I accept.

Now the food is back at our table. Sitting in front of us. Taunting us. Nick and I agree that cutting the meal in quarters is the best approach. Our one and only super fan walks through the door, as Nick and I saw through three pounds of burger. Jaclyn, the super fan, sits down and immediately has a comment.
            “That’s all this meal is…I could do this,” She mocks. “If you guys can’t do this, you suck. Plain and simple.”
I threaten to take her super fan status away if she keeps it up. She falls silent.
Nick and I dig in. Bite after bite. How Mr. Gonzales did this in less than eight minutes is beyond me. Rumor has it, he stood the entire meal; punching himself in the stomach to help make room.

Ten minutes in and the food tastes amazing. Nick and I laugh and joke about this challenge and our inevitable victory.

Eleven minutes in and I am almost in tears because I don’t think I will finish. I pray to Hulk Hogan to give me strength. ‘I am a real American, fight for the rights of every man…” is on a loop in my head. The Hulkster never gave up or tapped out and neither will I.
         “The fries are soooo dry,” I complain. They aren’t dry at all, I am just whining .
         “And my burgers cold,” I pout. It is cold, but still very tasty.

Fifteen minutes in and near seventy percent done with his meal, Nick stares into my eyes. “I can’t,” he whimpers. Time slows down as I see him grab his white napkin. These napkins are our white flags of surrender. Before I can say anything, Nick waves his flag and throws it on his plate.
          “It’s up to you now,” he says in a cheesy 80’s movie voice.
This gesture breaths new fire into my soul. My body tingles with one part near vomiting fullness and one part pride. I will not let you down Nick. I will not fail America.

Twenty minutes in I rest my face on my shoop glass; defeat flag on my meal. It’s over. Eighty percent and not a bite more. Food has won this round.
Nick and I fist bump to show that we both hold this failure as our own. We will be back Stucko’s. And next time….we come for blood!

Challenge rating 4.5/5
Yoopers- 0          Food- 1
p.s.  pictures will follow once I figure out how to post them.