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What do you think about competitive eating?

I don't know, seems like there are other "sports" that require more elaborate skills than stomach stuffing. At the same time, a number of places offer cheeseburger eating challenges nearby that I can't help but find interesting....could I eat a three pound cheeseburger with fries in a half hour and get it for free? Should I? Why? I don't know, what is the appeal of food stuffing challenges?

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  1. "what is the appeal of food stuffing challenges?"
    if you ever figure this one out, please enlighten me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I think the appeal for these businesses is money from people doing the attempt, getting the customer's acquaintances into the store to buy, and earning publicity.

    2. Stuffing your face with as much food as possible is just about as opposite as you can get from "chowishness." No one with any respect for food would participate in this obscene display.

      10 Replies
        1. re: MattInNJ

          I've never encountered one of these. How do they work?

          1. re: pikawicca

            Example: eating 6 of the hottest buffalo wings ever (usually created with an insanely hot sauce). A guy in my town makes his own hot sauce and every once in awhile he does an event at the local bar where people can try his sauces. The suicide wing challenge is always looked forward too and people have a lot of fun. No one is eating 10 pounds of mayo or anything like that, just having some fun with some insanely hot food.

          2. re: MattInNJ

            I used to work in an office full of spicy food aficionados. Every so often at this one pizza joint, they'd have a jalapeno contest. Hold a slice of jalapeno under your tongue, and the last one to break a sweat wins. The winner, consistently, was this pale willowy girl you would have assumed would be first out.

            1. re: jmckee

              There have been experiments where they've seen how long people can hold their tongues in carbonated water. Surprisingly it wasn't that long. But, I read about this decades ago before all this extreme spiciness challenge. Maybe people build up tolerance to everything.

              1. re: jmckee

                While it's probably true that more men are into macho-competitive hot pepper eating than women, the only person I know who can eat the hottest of the hot without even blinking is also a demure-looking female. Face it, they're tougher than us.

                1. re: BobB

                  And this comes as news to you?

                  Two words: Child. Birth.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Not news to me - I'm just pointing it out to jmckee. ;-)

                    1. re: BobB

                      Oh believe me, I'm married to a 6'2" nurse who specializes in Pain Management and put the AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA in type A personality

              2. re: MattInNJ

                Is it possible to actually sustain physical harm from this?

            2. Should you? Kinda depends on your capacity for pain.
              I occasionally watch Man vs. Food on Travel and find it akin to a gory accident I can't look away from. It's less about food and more about something I just can't figure out the reason for.

              "Just because you want to, doesn't mean you should."

              32 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I've never watched Man v. Food but I checked out the web site...it sure does look disrespectful to food. What's surprising is that a guy who supposedly has a lot of restaurant experience (even though he never even went to culinary school) would do this. Where is the enjoyment?

                1. re: observor

                  Excuse my ignorance but how does one show disrepect food? By eating lots of it? You can be disrespectful to people, institutions, cultures, religions, etc. etc. but how can you disrespect food?

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    Because food gives you something essential, and when you use it without any consideration of its purpose, you are ignoring its status in the world. By shoving 15 gallons of ice cream, or what have you, into your mouth you are not remotely considering the life giving, pleasure, and perhaps artistic elements and reducing it to something to put into your face.

                    1. re: observor

                      Please. Food has no status in the world. Food is food. It provides, energy, nutrients, enjoyment. After you eat it it becomes shit. Do you give status to shit?

                      If you honestly believe that eating food without consideration reduces "its status in the world" then you are better off railing against the 65% of Americans that are overweight then attacking the strawman that is competitive eating. Obviously overweight people are not taking "consideration of its (foods) purpose".

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        "Please. Food has no status in the world. Food is food. It provides, energy, nutrients, enjoyment. After you eat it it becomes shit. Do you give status to shit?"

                        i was going to write this almost word for word!

                        1. re: thew

                          Rare as this may be jfood agrees with both Thew and KT.

                          Food having status in the world. Wow.

                          1. re: jfood

                            I *still* think Rafiqui's is just okay ; )

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              Oh Man jfood forgot that was you with the anti-Raffique palate. ;-))

                              Good news is jfood works outside NYC these days (all the way in MN), so he does not have a dog in that hunt. in the midwest there is no bagels, no gyros, no novey, but other foods are absolutely outstanding.

                              1. re: jfood

                                I would gladly give up one year of gyros for one year of fish fries. Enjoy.

                            2. re: jfood

                              I'm agreeing with all three of you. I don't think food is some type of sacred product. It is a product that I am free to purchase with my money, just like anything else.

                              1. re: kwjd

                                It is a resource that is not always readily available to everyone on the planet, and as such it shouldn't be wasted. I think that's what is meant by respect in earlier posts.

                                I find the eating contests really disgusting, but then I've always had a problem watching any act of gluttony.

                          2. re: KTinNYC

                            thank you. someone needed to say it. FOOD has no status in the world. The entertainer or chef or restaurant that serves good food has the status. And if an establishment tries to get more business by having an eating contest of sorts and ppl go to it, then that restaurants advertising or marketing person will get status.

                            1. re: cookieluvntasha

                              Everything has status. Just like everyone who said "food is food" showed they have an understanding of low status. If food is not significant, why don't you try going without it for a few years.

                              1. re: observor

                                I hope you're not guilty of over-breathing. Because you can't go without oxygen for even a few MINUTES. So don't ever break into a trot, or anything, because then you are not respecting the status of air. Word.

                                1. re: small h

                                  Until the day when they put a tax on air and cut you off if you can't afford to pay it, air and food are not in the same ballpark. Food has VALUE. It costs real money for someone. The real problem with eating contests is they're yet another encouragement of blatant consumerism and lack of consideration for others.

                                  And yes, animal food does deserve respect. A living creature gave its life to make that hamburger. Animals are part of the food chain and you could argue that they were 'meant' to be eaten, but give them a little respect while you do it! Eating till you puke is not respect in my book.

                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                    Everything has value. That's my point. We happen to be on a site that is primarily concerned with food. Thus, wasting food is particularly galling to (some) people who post here. But as in so many of these tut-tutting threads, everyone professes to know exactly where the respectful enjoyment ends and the waste begins. Maybe you don't eat 'til you puke. But you probably have eaten to the point where you said to yourself, "wow! I'm really full." Which means you ate too much. You wasted food. And if you drove 10 extra miles because you like the pizza place in the next town better than the pizza place in your town, then you wasted gasoline as well.

                            2. re: KTinNYC

                              "Please. Food has no status in the world. Food is food. It provides, energy, nutrients, enjoyment. After you eat it it becomes shit. Do you give status to shit?"

                              Well, while I have been guilty of eating thoughtlessly, I must point out that if food deserves a certain respect it is because it came from a living thing. People who talk of respecting food are referring to the living things that it came from, and ultimately the land that sustains us. I believe these things deserve a certain status.

                              1. re: haggisdragon

                                You can and should treat the living creature with repect and consideration but once the creature has been dispatched it no longer really cares how it gets treated. It is now just food. You can appreciate food, you can be thankful you have it but respect it? I think not. My shoes are made of leather and I'm guessing yours are as well. They were once part of a living creature. Do you respect your shoes? I don't. I'm glad I have them but respecting them is something that would never even cross my mind. Maybe we all have different definitions of the word respect.

                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  There are three necessities of life: Food, clothing, and shelter. (And a friend of mine suggests that clothing is not a necessity.) Food is the one without which you'll die most quickly. I think that's worthy of respect, and so do a great many food writers and chefs. I could go home, page through my cookbook / foodbook collection, and come up with a hundred citations of "respecting" food without too much difficulty.

                                  1. re: jmckee

                                    It's pretty ironic for someone to think respecting food is a ridiculous idea.... on CHOWHOUND.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      i love food. i think about it and grave it. i make it and consume it.

                                      i respect good chefs.

                                      1. re: thew

                                        should that read 'gravy it'? '-)

                                  2. re: haggisdragon

                                    Food has no status? In what corner of Nowhere do you live? Ever heard of caviar? Belugta to lumpfish, status at one layer of haute or another. Foi gras? Tenderloin? Truffles? Escargot? Marrons? Wagyu? Abalone? There's a really really loooooooong list of status foods. You should explore the world! It's an interesting place!

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      I think your reply was intended for the person I quoted.

                                      1. re: haggisdragon

                                        Possibly. Sometimes the attributions get confusing. Sorry.

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          If you're not sure who's replying to what, click the "re:" name at the top right of a post and it will take you directly to its proper antecedent.

                                          EDIT: Oops! Just realized that's not what was misleading here. Never mind. Still a useful tip.

                              2. re: KTinNYC


                                You are using an extremely narrow definition of "respect," which can mean that one prizes something, or holds it in esteem. Those of us fortunate to have enough to eat should prize the food we consume. I can assure you that, given the chance, hungry people around the world would.

                                1. re: pikawicca


                                  The word may be appreciate versus respect

                              3. re: bushwickgirl

                                You really think he makes good cash?

                                1. re: observor

                                  For all the pain (think ghost peppers episode) he goes through, I would hope so. Or maybe he's got excellent medical coverage.
                                  On another note, as the world moves away from agrarian economies, countries that don't have other resources to trade, say oil or minerals, tend not to have much food either. In these economies, food has status.

                              4. I watched a TV documentary on Takeru Kobayashi once...he was planing on competing in a hot dog eating contest and spent literally months preparing for it. They showed him grocery shopping every day, stuffing himself with lettuce (apparently a good choice for those preparing to seriously gorge themselves?), and then he went to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant and just kept pulling plates off the belt and eating them. By the end he had several massive stacks of empty plates on the table. I was exhausted just watching him!

                                I think the whole idea would be a lot more appealing to me if I thought he could actually ENJOY the food while stuffing himself...then I would probably want to do it myself (but with real food, not water-soaked hot dogs).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: coll

                                  End of it for him too. Think if it comes back up you're DQ'd.

                                  1. re: monku

                                    No, they counted it because he caught it in his hands and ate it again. No disqualification involved, it was just how much you ate (and kept down). I can't believe they broadcast this in its entirity on Sports Channel, it was on a rainy Fourth of July with nothing going on so we watched it, thank God we weren't planning on hot dogs for dinner!

                                2. I couldnt do it and I don't understand it well... not even with beer, if i can't drink 2 liters of waters at once, why would i do it with beer? so i guess it all depends on if you actually enjoy it.

                                  that's why i dont do buffets either, i mean unless is very good food then i could have a bite of everything, but if it was just countless buffalo wings, or burgers if it i delicious after the 15 wing or the second burger it wouldnt be enjoyment anymore, but competition.

                                  I would do it for money though.. lol

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: helenahimm

                                    This one place near me offers a three pound burger with half a pound of cheese and bacon etc. (and a beer) for $23.00 and if you eat it in 35 minutes...they give you a 25 dollar *bar tab*. You don't even get it for free, they give you about 5 dollars worth of alcohol for assaulting yourself with this concoction *and* shelling out money.

                                    1. re: observor

                                      At The San Francisco Creamery if you eat their "Kitchen Sink" in a half hour it is not only free ($40 value) but you get free ice cream for a year. Now that is at least some incentive.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      And it just get's more stupid, see that womans family in California sued and got a big settlement because she died from that water drinking contest last year. One of those guys that does the Nathans thing supposedly holds the record for eating 1 & 1/2 #10 cans of jalepenos. Crazy.

                                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                        Joey "Chipmunk" Chestnut
                                        I.F.O.C.E International Federation of Competitive Eating
                                        "Joey Chestnut is truly an American hero and a national treasure."

                                        check out his titles http://www.ifoce.com/eaters.php?actio...

                                        1. re: monku

                                          "most recently did the unthinkable by eating 103 Krystal hamburgers in only 8 minutes."
                                          "Joey Chestnut is truly an American hero and a national treasure."
                                          OK,.... if IFOCE says so!
                                          BTW, I can eat far longer than Joey. He never eats longer than 8-12 minutes. What a waste. I would never want to eat with him, which is how I feel about several people I know who "wolf" food.

                                    2. If I ate a cheeseburger the size of a large pizza I wouldn't enjoy it. By the fifth bite, I'm satisfied by most food...even great food. When I've seen the Man vs. Food guy, all I can think about is his less than comfortable hour AFTER. I see no point to competitive eating.

                                      1. I wouldn't do it myself, but it's no worse than any other competition that wastes resources and puts participants in harm's way. Car racing, for example. I've been to the Nathan's hot dog eating contest, which is quite the spectacle.

                                        1. I think it's pretty stupid and a colossal waste of resources. There are a lot of truly hungry people in the world. How many people could be fed by just one of those contests? And how many of the silly things are there? It's more than a little obscene that we make a contest out of seeing how much we can stuff ourselves when people are starving.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Kajikit

                                            Aren't all sports a waste of resources? Michael Phelps was eating 12,000 calories a day in training for the Olympics. How many people could be fed if we just ended all sports? We should end all exercise as well. I mean, why consume calories just so we can burn them off?

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              Oh, now you're just being combative. Let's turn the tables, KTinNYC. What's YOUR beef with this topic? The idea that hunger is a real problem in the world? The world -- hell, in our own country one of every six children goes to bed hungry at night.

                                              1. re: jmckee

                                                and if we banned competitive eating would those children go less hungry?

                                                hunger is not caused by a lack of available food, there is more than enough food in the world to go around. someone shoving 50 hamburgers or hot dogs down his gullet is not taking them from the hands of hungry people

                                                1. re: jmckee

                                                  My beef with this topic is that it is a straw man argument. Of course competitive eating is stupid but it's been going on for quite a long time. As Caroline1 points out she was in one as a child and from her post I know she is an "experienced" eater and the world still spins on its axis. I'll bet the percentage of hungry people on earth was proportionately higher 60 years ago then it is today.

                                                  To argue the activity is wasting resources is just silly. I'll bet there are more calories wasted in your average elementary school in one day then all of the calories consumed at the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest. We waste resources all the time. I'm serious about the sports comparison. Marathon runners burn hundreds of thousands of calories every year. Is that a waste of resources?

                                                  If we really want to discuss environmentalism or resource conservation then let's really do it but to set up a post where we all complain about competitive eating is meaningless.

                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                    Jfood's beef with the topic is not the topic but the unending extrapolation that it will solve world hunger and it is a huge waste of resources. Jfood firmly agrees that hunger is an issue, both in the US and elsewhere and he just wishes that people would admit there is a problem in the US (like you did - thank you) versus getting their mugs in the paper for doing something in a third world nation. We have hunger and illiteracy right here in the USA. When are people who can make a difference going to go on TV and help them, or adopt one of them, or build a school for them?

                                                    BTW - Nice avatar, bet that cost a pretty penny that could have been better used to feed a family for a week in a third world country.

                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      That's an nonexistent linkage: I don't like the crass overconsumption therefore I "unendingly extrapolate" that it will solve world hunger. The way I think about hunger and about the eating contests are linked by a shared value: Food is a delightful gift of the creator, and also a precious resource. To be aware of those two facts are to value good food and to know that many suffer from a lack of it.

                                                      And the "In the US vs. Third World Nation" conflict is an artificial bipolar construct. It's not either / or. It's both and. This nation consumes more than its share of resources, including food; within this country, that resource is not equitably distributed. So we can play a role in solving the hunger problem both here and in other countries.

                                                      As for your comment about the avatar, I'm not sure exactly what to make of that. Are you implying that it was extravagant? Wasteful? Or that it was prepared and consumed INSTEAD of doing something for hunger, rather than in addition to? Seems needlessly snide to me.

                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                        Jfood has a problem with every time he looks at a magazine or a commercial or anything related to hunger, >90% of the time it is not directed at the US. You and jfood agree that it is a world wide problem and jfood set out many, many years ago to do something about it in this country in the early 70's when a group of HS kids came up with a new idea called a "Walk" to raise money for MOW.

                                                        Now it is so in fashion to do something overseas that the needs of the American poor seem to take a back seat. Food banks are low, use of food bank are high. We need to help ourselves as well.

                                                        But these boards are chuck full of posters who throw all issues on the shoulders of big business, the industry farm, subsidies; all sorts of things. Get's jfood upset that they are the same people who should be happy that they have the choice of food, have the choice of heat, have housing. And jfood would bet that many of their contributions to the problem consist of sitting around and bitching about it to others, versus working in a food kitchen, contributing to a food bank or raising money for the poor.

                                                        Your post is spot on, nice job. And yes, jfood's snip at your avatar is as you described. And given you response jfood does a mea culpa. You are not one of the scorched earth chicken little, but posted a thoughtful and well written response.


                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          Et cum spirito tuo.

                                                          If you want peace, work for justice. And that includes a just distribution of food in the realization that food is a RIGHT not a privilege to be filtered downward.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            while i really agree. i must say the worst off in america are not as bad off as many in other places. this does not mean they do not need or deserve our help - they do. just sayn', that's all

                                                2. Everywhere you look there's some kind of whacky competition or challenge-I'm not talking only food eating contests. Think Guiness Book of World Records.
                                                  Eating the most in a certain amount of time is one of those when it comes to food.
                                                  Downing that three pound cheeseburger in a half hour is you against the clock...the odds are probably against you doing it otherwise they wouldn't offer it.
                                                  You're not going to beat Joey Chestnut eating anything, but you may beat the clock. It's a mini challenge to some like climbing Mt. Everest is to others.

                                                  "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" Jim McKay, ABC Wild World of Sports

                                                  1. It's in the vein of the freak show. We all know better than to pay attention, but we just can't help it.

                                                    1. I agree it's a terrible waste in the face of all the hunger not just in the world, but right here in the US. And it's vulgar.

                                                      1. Sure, why not, go for it.

                                                        Report back and let us know how you did.

                                                        And for those who think it is a waste of time ... it's all a matter of perspective. For many, posting on Chowhound regularly would be considered a waste of time and waste of precious resources ...

                                                        1. I was encouraged to enter a pie eating contest at some sort of huge holiday fair when I was around 8 or 9. It was blueberry pies, primarily for their staining value. I managed a bit over half a pie before retreating and swore I would never enter another eating contest with a time limit of less than three days. I continue to live by that.

                                                          1. What do I think about competitive eating? I think it's disgusting. It's the very antithesis of what it means to be a Chowhound.

                                                            1. I think you should do it! You obviously love hamburgers, pizza, etc.
                                                              What puzzles me is why you are on Chowhound and then why you are asking this question of us who supposedly look for "Chowish" experiences.
                                                              It's kind of like asking a professional artist whether you should go for the 150 pack of Crayolas.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                Who knows what pretty art one could create with that Crayola pack...

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  What I would like to know is how many of these "contestants" keep the food down or is a given that they go off and make themselves puke it all up? I would think in the case of pepper eating this would be most unwise. I would also think a three pound burger, with accouterments, would be hard on the digestive system.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    Oh yeah, totally agreed. I actually like the show man v. food, perhaps b/c I find the dude sympatico. But it's painful to watch sometimes. I love oysters, but you couldn't pay me to finish off 15 dozen of them, as he did at Antoine's in Nola. And it's utterly disgusting to even ponder finishing off a 3 lb. burger plus 1 lb. cheese-fries (eww) plus a 16 oz. milkshake. I am awed when he does, but thankful at the same time that I haven't ingested that amount of food. I am usually in trouble when I overeat (which I rarely do, but it happens when I *really* like my food), and can only imagine the pain and discomfort (I try not to).

                                                                    His capacity for spice impresses me, tho. I can get macho about chili peppers, but not THAT macho '-)

                                                              2. I don't see the appeal in competitive eating, but I don't see the appeal in making pottery either. If it is a fun activity for someone else, I'm not going to stand in their way.

                                                                Having said that, I do see the appeal in competitions over pretty much anything. While I don't have an intrinsic desire to eat more than someone else, I'm a very competitive person and would probably go against someone in a challenge. I certainly have been involved in drinking games for the competition aspect, even though I don't actually care if I can chug a beer faster than another person.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kwjd

                                                                  That's what interests me...the challenge, to see if one can do it...but they have to offer more of an incentive then "it's free"

                                                                2. It's disgusting enough to make me consider giving up eating, period. Don't evne get me started about "Man v Food" - ugh. How revolting!

                                                                  1. I think the fascination is the same as watching a train wreck...you just can't peel your eyes away from it even though you know it's going to end badly. Should you? That is a completely personal thing.

                                                                    If you enjoy possibly feeling like crap for a couple hours afterwards from stuffing yourself into silliness, sure, go for it. I know it does not appeal to me, just like all you can eat places are lost on me as I much prefer to enjoy quality over quantity.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bdachow

                                                                      I'm still waiting for the day when you can get quality *and* quantity.

                                                                      1. re: observor

                                                                        Golly, just 2 days ago you were posting about what a great deal you can get at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.


                                                                        I decided to check out their weekend-only breakfast for $4.99. Unbelievable what you can get for such a price in this nation. Scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelettes with all the mix-ins, three kinds of sausage, three kinds of potatoes, bacon, pancakes, French toast, mini Belgian waffles, biscuits and gravy, cereals, all bread possibilities, tacos (?), fried chicken pieces, *fresh* fruit, complete salad bar, cinammon rolls, a full display of cookies and cakes, and I am missing stuff, I am sure. $4.99! (it doesn't include beverage) Unbelievable. Amazing deal.

                                                                        Yep, no food wasting there.

                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                          I never said it was *quality*, per se, but it certainly wasn't bad for the cost.

                                                                          1. re: observor

                                                                            Let me connect the dots for you. All-you-can-eat buffets (which you like) aren't that far removed from eating contests.

                                                                            They sure don't encourage moderation.

                                                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                              But you don't win a prize for finishing it all. Or the "honor."

                                                                              1. re: observor

                                                                                And just above in this thread..."Because food gives you something essential, and when you use it without any consideration of its purpose, you are ignoring its status in the world. By shoving 15 gallons of ice cream, or what have you, into your mouth you are not remotely considering the life giving, pleasure, and perhaps artistic elements and reducing it to something to put into your face"

                                                                                Sounds like an AYCE Buffet respect, artistry, sensitivity to the animals that gave their lives for "three kinds of sausage" to jfood. Focus on the conclusion..."Unbelievable. Amazing deal."


                                                                              2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                I never said it was *quality*, per se, but it wasn't bad for the cost.

                                                                              3. re: observor

                                                                                apple tree, early fall = quality and quantity.

                                                                                1. re: observor

                                                                                  It's out there if you're willing to pay for it.
                                                                                  Bellagio and Wynn buffets in Las Vegas come to mind.

                                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                                    Actually, I was a bit underwhelmed at the Wynn buffet. But I'm a spoiled brat '-P

                                                                              4. There's a difference between food stuffing and competitive eating. Adam (can't remember his last name) from Man V Food says he's not a competitive eater. He goes for the challenge. The first time I saw a competitive eating contest was over 10 years ago. I watched in a fascinated, "People do this for a living???" way. One competitor was that skinny Japanese guy and there were a handful of others. Food would drop from the ceiling and whoever ate the most in whatever time frame won. Odd foods, like cow brains, butter, mayo. I watched drop jawed. There was a show about training for the competitions and how hard it was. Anyway, I don't get it, but I think it does require some skill to overlook pain and continue. I guess in the same way that I run marathons that really takes no more skill than putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how tired you get, this is along those lines. There really is no purpose to either, except to say that you do it/did it. And, I love watching those badland ultra challenges, too. I think a food eating challenge would leave me feeling far sicker than running long distances, though. It seems like the most unpleasant thing to do but then again, my friend said my workout weekends sounded like her idea of hell so to each his/her own.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  Chowser, so funny you would mention that competition, b/c I think I saw the same thing. It was on in late 2001 or early 2002 (I know that b/c I had just moved to the U.S.), and it was aptly called "The Glutton Bowl."

                                                                                  Whole cow tongues, mayo, sticks of butter, huge sushi rolls, stuff like that. It was on at dinner time, and I could not believe what I was seeing. Of course, in my first few months here I was mesmerized with the Jerry Springer show, too '-)

                                                                                  Sticks of butter and pure mayo. I don't know how you'd do that without yuking. That is just gross.

                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                    It must have made some impression on us because we still remember it all these years later. It was the first time I'd ever heard of anything like that and watching people down butter, mayo, cow tongue (that's right, not brains) kept me riveted, in part out of disgust. Funny to find someone else who saw it.

                                                                                2. The day that no one on earth does not go hungry, I will be the 1st one to sign up for the next matzo ball eating contest. Seriously, I just find it sad. Will not participating/watching these contest save lives? Most likely no. However, it's symbolic of our lack of concern about bigger issues and our taking for granted that we will always have excess... and forget about 3rd world nations; we need to start rethinking for ourselves. The sadder thing is that there is more than enough food to feed the world; it's just not distributed properly.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                    "it's symbolic of our lack of concern about bigger issues and our taking for granted that we will always have excess..."

                                                                                    They had pie eating contest during the Great Depression. People knew about deprivation during those times how do you explain this behavior?

                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                      Those sorry folks needed to eat. Something.

                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                        My observations of pie eating contests are the winner is the one who can eat "one" pie the fastest with their hands behind their back. It's innocent enough and pie is cheap enough. I don't think there was any intention the contest was a display of excess but just good natured fun for young and old.

                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                          Just because people did it in the past doesn't justify it today.

                                                                                          1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                                            No, but the fact that there was competitive eating during the Great Depression sure undermines your claim that it's a symptom of us "taking for granted that we will always have excess."

                                                                                      2. Just barely more appealing than competitive vomiting.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                          that contest starts 5min after the competitive eating contest!

                                                                                          fwiw, I am damn sure that projectile vomiting is the best kept secret in competitive eating. Yes, they have to keep it all down for 5 min, but what happens in minute 6 after the cameras get turned off? yeah, I think we all know the answer......

                                                                                        2. I'm pretty much indifferent to it - I don't find it disgusting, but I don't go out of my way to watch it either. And I disagree with those who argue that's it's inherently unChowhoundish - it really has much less to do with food per se than it does with pushing the body to an extreme. It's more closely related to those strongman contests where guys compete by pulling a locomotive with their teeth. I don't watch those either but it doesn't bother me that they exist.

                                                                                          1. Honestly I believe that looking at the number of posts here just from a few days, all of the people that find it disgusting must watch it to the end. Myself, I enjoy it but will turn my head when the ultimate "UpChuck" happens. Many years ago when I was a young female sprite in college I held the beer chugging contest in my dorm. Not real proud of it now, but I was a hero back then at OSU. It's kinda like my opinion of deer hunting, I wouldn't do it, but for those that do, Have at it.

                                                                                            1. http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/12/vi...

                                                                                              This film short (comic relief) made me smile while pondering what appeals to all of us about the food we eat. Enjoy your day!

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                Thank you so much for the link -- laughed so hard, I scared the dog.

                                                                                              2. Hey Folks,
                                                                                                This thread has taken off in many different directions. Please keep it related to competitive events and the like, as opposed to political correctness and the morality of food. Thank you.

                                                                                                1. I can't for the life of me see how anyone can stand to watch such "competitions." Seeing people try not to puke as they stuff more grease and sugar down their throat is disgusting to me. Just seeing those huge platters of food makes me slightly nauseus. I love to eat but that does not look enjoyable in the least.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: SharaMcG

                                                                                                    "I love to eat but that does not look enjoyable in the least."

                                                                                                    Neither do marathon races.

                                                                                                    I don't watch competitive eating contests but I don't find them disgusting, just silly.

                                                                                                  2. Who doesn't enjoy watching a train wreck and for me, that's what competitive eating is. I like seeing these people gorge themselves on a bushel of jalapeƱos and then stumble around as their intestinal tract pauses before eruption.

                                                                                                    1. i have to say i watch the July 4th NAthans contest almost every year

                                                                                                      1. I have never understood competitive eating contests. Yeah, I know you can make a contest out of anything, but why would you want to? What's next, competitive sex - who can make love the fastest??

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                          i don't that competition would be about speed

                                                                                                        2. I entered a rib eating contest two years in a row. It was a benefit for a charity I support, people pledged money per rib eaten. It was an annual event, and I was the first and only women ever to enter. (I've moved away from the town it was in, so I don't know if I still am.) The first year, I really thought that I might have a chance to win. (I don't remember what the prize was, but since it was a fund-raiser, it probably wasn't anything great.) I think I ate maybe 14 ribs, and I didn't even come remotely close to the skinny fireman who won with more than 20. I did not make myself throw up afterwards, but I felt absolutely awful the entire rest of the day. I knew for sure that eating all you can possibly hold is a very bad idea. But because people could also pledge on-site for any of the contestants, and I was the only woman, I ended up raising a lot of money for the charity. So, the following year I entered again, but told all my supporters that I would stop at 10 ribs, so they could calculate their pledges accordingly. At the contest, we made a big deal of the fact that although I couldn't eat the most, I was the daintiest eater of ribs they had ever seen in competition, and again raised a bunch of money. So, the appeal, for me, was that I helped raise a lot of money for one of my favorite charities, and the second year, it was fun.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                            Putting a limit to yourself in competitive eating is, like, offensive.
                                                                                                            Then again I once threw up during a pie eating contest, so...

                                                                                                            1. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                              You got style, hon. Ooops, didn't mean that "hon". Lessn' yer not offended.

                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                Oh, no offense taken! I ate all those ribs with my pinky fingers extended gracefully.

                                                                                                              2. re: Kathleen M

                                                                                                                it is a fairly well observed phenomenon that thinner people can out eat their fat counterparts. The band of fat around your internal organs(and to a lesser degree, the fat around your belly) inhibit the expansion of your stomach. fwiw, I am 6' 2" and 170lbs(on a good day) and have eaten 38 ribs in under an hour. Yes, I was miserable, and no I didnt vomit....although I thought long and hard about it!:-)

                                                                                                              3. Sorry, but gluttony has no appeal to me, and IMHO, that's exactly what these "contests" are. It has nothing to do with the starving children in (insert your favorite country here) or the fact they are not savoring the food. To me any of these face-stuffing events are exercises in gluttony, whether they are singular competitors against the clock or a group of them. FWIW, I also feel the same about "all you can eat buffets" and the patrons who just have to "get their money's worth."

                                                                                                                I am equally contemptuous of the TV shows that glorify gluttony. This obviously includes "Man v. Food" but also "The Best Places to Pig Out" (Travel Channel), the profile on how the skinny female competitive eater "trains" (segment of "Unwrapped" on FN), and similar shows. And when did hot dog eating become a "sport" worthy of ESPN? (I guess about the same time poker did.)

                                                                                                                To answer the OP's final question, food stuffing challenges have no appeal to me what so ever. In fact I get disgusted whenever I hear of this type of show. I say "hear of" because I don't watch them.

                                                                                                                BTW - tho in the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit to being a "full-figured" guy, with a propensity to gain weight easily and lose hard, this does not figure into the equation. I am not jealous of those who who can stuff their faces and still remain thin, just revolted by them.

                                                                                                                1. I entered a pie eating contest when I was about 15. You had to be the first person to eat a standard "Table Talk" brand apple pie. Well I won, I ate it in less than one minute, but I was so nauseous afterwards, and have never been able to eat another bite of apple pie since. I even smell apple pie and I feel nauseous again.

                                                                                                                  1. What kind of a dumbass would have a $22 three pound burger under 35 minutes and get nothing more than about $5 worth of free alcohol? That bar must be nuts.