These competitors never really get their fill


According to a recent story on abcnews.com, a Sacramento woman recently ate three 72-ounce steak dinners in about 20 minutes during a food challenge held at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

Molly Schuyler also put down three baked potatoes, three shrimp cocktails, three salads and three rolls. There was no mention in the article whether or not she also wolfed down the plate, knives, table or seat, but she did say that the reason she stopped at three full steak dinners was because she was sick of the taste, not because she was full.

Curious, I dropped Schuyler’s name into Google. I was expecting to see... well, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, to be honest. I’ve seen a few of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests on ESPN over the years (don’t judge me), and it always kind of amazes me that the dais isn’t filled with 946-pound “competitors” who need assistance simply getting out of their cars when they arrive at the contest.

And Schuyler was no different. If anything, she is thin, which makes her, (1) someone who obviously trains fairly seriously for the rigors this kind of activity puts one’s body through, and, (2) someone who makes me angry, as I seem to gain three pounds while watching the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN.

Regardless, this was not her first impressive feat when it comes to competitive eating.

The mother of four became the first woman to win the Stellanator challenge at Stella’s Bar and Grill in Nebraska in 2012, when she ate a sandwich that included six hamburger patties, six eggs, six pieces of cheese and six pieces of bacon, topped with fried onions, jalapeños, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, two buns and mayonnaise. Later that year, Schuyler and her friend Tyler Danforth ate the Big Joe Pizza at Frank’s Pizzeria in Nebraska in 28 minutes. The Big Joe Pizza, by the way, weighs 12 pounds.

She also won a contest in Washington, D.C., by taking out 26 burgers in 10 minutes; set a world record by eating a four-pound sandwich and one pound of tater tots in 2 minutes, 55 seconds; and captured another world record by eating five pounds of bacon in 5 minutes, 2.1 seconds. And she owns the female record at the Wing Bowl in Philadelphia, where she ate 440 chicken wings in 26 minutes.

Hungry yet?

My wandering mind led me to research the feats of more competitive eaters, and I quickly found the website for Major League Eating & International Federation of Competitive Eating. For starters, why didn’t this organization come up with a name featuring a cool little acronym like FOOD, or GLUTTON or BELCH? MLEIFCE does not scream, “competitive eating,” though it does sound like a noise I might make after attempting to eat the amounts of food listed under these...

But I digress.

Sonya Thomas once put down 8.31 pounds of Armour Vienna Sausage in 10 minutes, which is about 8.29 more pounds than I could ingest of that stuff in 10 hours, and she broke another world record when she consumed 8.4 pounds of baked beans in 2 minutes, 47 seconds — an impressive achievement, to be sure, but a victory party I would have probably tried to avoid afterwards.

Somewhat-famous hotdog-eating champion Joey Chestnut appeared several times for world records, including 12 pounds, 8.75 ounces of deep fried asparagus spears in 10 minutes; 4.375 three-pound apple pies in 8 minutes; 14 pounds of boysenberry pie in 8 minutes; 2.1875 gallons of chili in 6 minutes; 20 8-ounce corned beef sandwiches in 10 minutes; and, of course, 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

Oleg Zhornitskiy’s achievement was the proverbial straw that broke my stomach’s back — he ate four 32-ounce bowls of mayonnaise in 8 minutes.

I confess to feeling a tsunami-like wave of nausea typing that last sentence.

Look, I’m certainly not one to judge how much someone eats, or how they earn a living. Countless pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream have fallen victim to my late-night binges, and there is no cash prize in sight for that accomplishment — nor is there much pride. I can’t imagine what they put their bodies through is good for them in the long run, but most of them appear to be reasonably fit, and I’m sure there is way more involved in their training than watching cartoons and eating potato chips all day.

But... really? At a time when people are finally beginning to appreciate the importance of what they’re putting into their bodies, competitive eating gains recognition? Where does this “sport” go into the future? Olympics? Pay-per-view? Pay-per-spew?

I already feel full.