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After seeing the National Hot Dog Eating championships on ESPN the
other day, I fell in love with a new sport! I did not even know
there was a professional organization for competitive eating! I have
been a "recreational eater" all my life! Now I hope to hone my
eating skills at various events in my area. However, I will probably
never attain the competitive skill level of many IFOCE eaters! I
already put in my order for an IFOCE t-shirt and an official slogan
t-shirt to display at all of my events! I would look forward to
hearing from all of you top eaters. Good luck with all of your
eating events in the future!
I would like to know how competitive eaters train. I've heard of the
water training, but would like to know how much and how often to do
this. I know too much water can lead to hyponatremia, a very
dangerous sodium deficiency from excessive water amounts. Let me
know. Thank you!
Krazy Kevin Lipsitz himself!!! Eeeeeek!
I was so beyond thrilled when I saw his message in my inbox, I had
to call up a friend immediately just so somebody could hear me
squeal. I have no idea how he found out about it, but Kevin said
that he liked the group. Eeeeek! Kevin also said that he's
*temporarily* retiring from the sport, because he wants to get his
weight down so he can go caving again (apparently, it's really easy
to get stuck while caving!
Kevin also recommended a few sites to fans of the sports:
This is really cool, 'cause I had no idea that Don "Moses" Lerman
had a site! Well, just wanted to share my excitement there.
84 Lumber will hold the World Baked Beans-Eating Championship in
Indiana on Saturday, August 7, 2004 at 1 PM at 84 Lumber, 7138 W US
Highway 40, Centerville, IN 47330. Each competitor will receive 8.4
pounds of baked beans - the first eater done wins. (Eaters should
arrive at noon.)
In additional to the prestigious title, there is $1,750.00 in prize
money on the line: ($1,000.00 for first place; $500.00 for second
place; and $250.00 for third place). There are still spots available
to compete; this is an IFOCE event and the IFOCE will handle all
registration. Those interested in competing who are 18 years of age
and older can email beans@... or call (212) 627-5766 to pre-
Here's two emails I got from the IFOCE Mailing list.
Attention all eaters!
The IFOCE would like to invite everyone to sign up for the Krystal
Square-Off World Hamburger Eating Championships this fall.
Last week, Krystal announced the record-setting top prize of $10,000
for the winner of the World Championship in Chattanooga, TN on Nov.
13. This brings the total prize money for the final event to $17,500
(Second place will receive $5,000, and $2,500 will go to third
There are 11 qualifying events throughout the southeast and you must
qualify for the championship through one of these events. The winner
of each qualifier earns a seat at the finals. Spots are filling up
fast and we want everyone to have a chance to participate so go to
the link below and sign up now (do not reply to this email to
More information is available at:
This is a reminder that the Saratoga Racetrack Nathan's Famous Hot
Dog Eating qualifier is this Sunday, August 22 at 2:30p.
You should arrive by 1:30p.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Another heads up on a way ginchy event coming up on the 22nd of this
month, starring several top eaters (including West Coast favorite
Ray "The Bison" Meduna). It seems like most of the big events are
in New York so this will really be a treat. This is gonna be at the
LA county fair, so there's really no excuse if you don't go, LA
people. Also, they're still looking for college students to
compete, so this might be your big chance, sports fans. Cheers.
Winchell's Donut Final at LA Fair
A star-studded lineup of eating champions will gather in Los
Angeles, CA, on Wednesday, September 22 for the Winchell's World
Donut Eating Championship. The winner will receive $1,500.00 and the
ultra-prestigious title of Winchell's World Donut Eating Champion
the winner-take-all contest to be held at the Los Angeles County
Fair on the Shopping Plaza Stage at 7:30pm.
On hand will be a number of America's top-ranked eaters,
reigning World Donut Eating Champion Eric `Badlands' Booker.
heralded field will also include `Jalapeno' Jed Donahue (152
jalapeno peppers, 15 minutes); Rich `The Locust' LeFevre (10
Chili, 10 minutes); Don `Moses' Lerman (Six Pounds Baked
Minute 48 Seconds); Ray `The Bison' Meduna (12 Large Sweet
four minutes); and `Jammin' Joe LaRue, the #7 ranked eater in
"The Winchell's World Donut Eating Championship is one of the
important events on the competitive eating circuit," said Rich
President of the IFOCE. "With a `Who's Who' roster of
eating champions, this title is truly up for grabs."
The contest will be held on `College Night' of the LA County
drawing on the sport's popularity amongst this demographic. There
are still spots available specifically for college students to
compete, and those interested who are 18 years and over can email
donuts@... or call (212) 627-5766 to register.
How's THAT for sensationalism? Here's an article I read in July
about a mob attempt on the life of Curtis Silwa back in the early
nineties. The feds have barely gotten aound to charging John Gotti
Jr. for the murder attempt.
Eating fans might remember the radio host as a winner of the
Carnegie Deli pickle eating contest, as well as contestant and emcee
in the Ben's Deli matzoh ball eating contest.
John ``Junior'' Gotti indicted on kidnapping, attempted murder
by Tom Hayes, AP Writer
(07-22-04) 11:49 PDT NEW YORK (AP) --
Less than two months from freedom, the jailed son of the late mob
boss John Gotti was charged Thursday with the kidnapping and
attempted murder of an outspoken talk-show host -- allegedly to
silence his radio rants against the "Dapper Don."
John A. "Junior" Gotti, 40, was scheduled to leave prison Sept. 7 on
a 1999 racketeering conviction, but now faces charges that could put
the former head of the Gambino crime family away for life. Three
other alleged mobsters were named in the indictment.
Court papers allege that Gotti and Gambino soldiers Joseph "Little
Joey" D'Angelo and Michael "Mikey Y" Yannotti plotted in 1992 to
first kidnap and then murder Curtis Sliwa, reportedly as payback for
comments he had made about the elder Gotti on a radio show.
On June 19, 1992, Sliwa was ambushed after he hailed a cab on
Manhattan's Lower East Side. D'Angelo and Yannotti, who were inside
the cab, allegedly fired several shots before fleeing.
The cab "was intended to be a hearse," U.S. Attorney David Kelley
said at a news conference.
Kelley called the indictment "another powerful blow to the Gambino
organized crime family's grip on the city." He denied that the
timing of the charges was influenced by Gotti's scheduled release.
Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds after
the attack, which occurred four days before the elder Gotti was
sentenced to life behind bars in his racketeering case. In April
1992, Sliwa had been attacked by three bat-wielding young men,
leaving him with a broken hand and an injured scalp.
"Now the true culprit is going to have to face me in court, and I
can't wait to stare at him from the witness stand," Sliwa said
Thursday in a phone interview. "He had his thugs on two separate
occasions attack me for speaking out against his father and his
degenerate crime family."
Sliwa also founded the Guardian Angels, a crime-fighting group known
for making citizen arrests on subway trains.
In addition to the Sliwa attack, Gotti was charged in two additional
murder conspiracies and with securities fraud, extortion and loan
Gotti's attorney, Richard Rehbock, said he had already spoken with
his client about the allegations.
"We are requesting that John be brought down (from prison)
immediately," Rehbock said. "We will be seeking a speedy trial on
The younger Gotti took over control of the Gambinos, once the
nation's most powerful mob family, after his father was sent to
prison in 1992. Law enforcement officials have characterized him as
a "dumbfella," unable to insulate himself from legal woes.
Gotti, who is imprisoned in a federal facility in Ray Brook, N.Y.,
will likely appear in court next week on the new charges, Rehbock
Yannotti, D'Angelo and the fourth defendant -- associate
Louis "Louie Black" Mariani -- were awaiting arraignment in
Manhattan. D'Angelo was indicted for the 1990 murder of Edward
Garofalo, on orders from Gambino underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.
Just added a few things to the site today. First off, we've got a
very cool new picture in the gallery of Ray "The Bison" Meduna
competing in the sweet corn event earlier this year, thanks to the
man himself. Also, I've added six new articles to the Files
section, bringing up the total to 62 competitive eating articles. I
found this one, published last week by the Tacoma News-Tribune
particularly interesting. A writer's humorous (albeit somewhat
unethical!) attempt to start up an eating contest in his hometown.
Copyright 2004 The News Tribune
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)
September 17, 2004, Friday
SECTION: South Sound; Pg. D01
LENGTH: 1330 words
HEADLINE: Get your belly ready for some competitive eating
BYLINE: Dan Voelpel, The News Tribune
How many pieces of Cashew Roca can you eat in six minutes?
Do you think you could out-eat Eric "Badlands" Booker? First,
consider that Badlands
holds the following world records:
* Forty-nine Krispy Kreme hot glazed doughnuts in eight minutes.
* Fifty Hamentaschen, the traditional Jewish Purim cookies, in six
* Two pounds of candy - Snickers, Milky Way and 3 Musketeers
minibars - in six
Wednesday, Badlands Booker will fly to Los Angeles where he'll
battle Ray "The Bison"
Meduna of Mount Vernon and others in the first Winchell's World
Badlands - all 420 pounds of him - knows his sweets.
But before this month, the man ranked No. 4 in the world by the
of Competitive Eating had never heard of Almond Roca or Brown &
Haley or the
Tacoma candymaker's newest innovation, Cashew Roca.
Neither did the top dogs at the IFOCE in New York know anything
Brown & Haley or its fine confections.
So I FedEx'd two tubs of Cashew Roca - one to Badlands Booker's home
N.Y., the other to David Baer, the IFOCE director of global
expansion, in New York
What better way, I thought, to promote Cashew Roca and showcase
Tacoma than making
Roca a centerpiece of the world's fastest growing sport -
Badlands Booker, upon sampling from the package, endorsed the idea.
"The candy is delicious," he raved. "It would make a good,
challenging contest in my
opinion. If you decide to go further with it, you can count me in."
Maybe you saw Badlands set the world candy-eating record. He did it
on an MTV
Halloween special, eating 64 Fun-size bars made by Mars, Inc. -
company founded in Tacoma in 1911 in the home kitchen of Frank and
"I had a little sugar rush afterwards," Badlands said. "But I had a
lot of energy, too."
George Shea, vice president of the IFOCE, immediately sensed the
(Note: The big bucket of Cashew Roca reportedly disappeared soon
after it arrived at
IFOCE headquarters. Executives discovered it hidden under a baseball
cap on the
"You've got that buttercrunch thing going on rather than a nougat.
That's unique," Shea
said. "It's the kind of thing we'd love to do, and we are very good
at what we do."
What the IFOCE does is organize and gain international media
attention for competitive-
eating events from asparagus to zucchini.
"We'd bring in our superstars. Maybe find a local (Roca-eating) hero
whose back is
against the wall. Recognize it as a world championship," Shea said.
"We'd send a host, color commentators. It's an entertainment event.
Ninety minutes of
For a sanctioned world championship with travel expenses and
appearance fees for six to
eight top-ranked eaters, prize money and venue costs, Shea estimated
a Tacoma event
would cost between $ 15,000 to $ 20,000 - a relative pittance in the
world of candy
advertising and promotion.
Is your mouth watering yet? Well, hold your appetite just one
minute. I should have
asked the good folks at Brown & Haley first.
Brown & Haley never intended to spend a penny on advertising or
promotion for Cashew
Roca. They just plan to ship it out and "let it grow on the quality
of word of mouth," said
Pierson Clair, president and CEO.
Worse yet, Clair said, a competitive eating gorge-a-thon would hurt
the company rather
than help it. Since Almond Roca's invention in 1923, the company has
built an image of
Roca "as a high-grade, premium, sophisticated confection" meant for
consumers to enjoy
"It's the law of unintended consequences." Clair said. "Roca is not
a 'gobble' candy like
M&Ms. . . . This (Cashew Roca) is high-grade stuff. It's not just a
can-down-your-throat kind of stuff."
An eating competition "would damage my brand, and I have to guard
the quality of my
brand and how people felt about it," he said.
Three independent marketing experts agreed Brown & Haley must ensure
reinforces the image it wants people to have of its candy.
"I think it is a legitimate concern," said Shannon Kavanaugh,
founder and president of
Go-To-Market Strategies in Seattle. "I can't weigh in to say if a
contest is a good idea or a bad idea for them.
"Certainly, publicity is great. Widespread publicity is even
greater. But if it
communicates the wrong thing to the wrong people, then it does them
no good. It can, in
fact, damage their brand."
"I think there's two schools of thought on this," said Ira James,
vice president of
marketing for Winchell's Donuts. "The brand image is important, and
you have to worry
whether (an event) adds or detracts from brand image. . . . Every
individual marketer has
to make their own decision.
"But people are people. They have a sense of humor. It's hard to
going to stop eating Almond Roca because of an eating contest."
Besides, said Kurt Jacobson, president and senior strategist of
communications consultancy JayRay, the image of Roca as "precious"
has shifted a bit
over the years.
"At one time, it really was precious," Jacobson said. "One piece of
Almond Roca was a
big deal . . . until we started getting huge tins of them at
I remember hiding the gold-foil wrappers in my pocket so Mom
wouldn't know how
many I'd taken from her candy dish.
"I'm sure there's a way to make (the contest) a tongue-in-cheek
event and still present it in
a way that protects their brand," Kavanaugh said.
"To a degree, we have this issue with every food brand," said Baer
of the IFOCE.
When Mickey Mantle's, a New York restaurant, worried about
associating their food with
competitive eating, the IFOCE structured an event for competitors to
eat a Thanksgiving
meal - turkey, stuffing, potatoes - with a knife and fork.
The IFOCE hosts events with other foods - lobster, shrimp, oysters,
cheesecake, fruitcake - often considered high-quality, small-portion
For Cashew Roca, Baer said, the IFOCE would wrap the event in an air
of elegance. He
would dress his superstars in formal, black-tie attire and make them
unwrap each piece
from the blue foil.
"This would not be a gross-out event for 14-year-olds," he said.
Thanks to some serendipity and the City of Tacoma, we landed the
perfect date and
venue: Sunday, Nov. 14, in the grand ballroom of the new Greater
Tacoma Convention &
All free to Brown & Haley, and free for us to watch. Doug Miller,
councilman and president of Impression Productions, has the contract
to organize the
Nov. 13-14 public open house at the new convention center.
The ballroom, decorated for a black-tie ball the night of Nov. 13,
could stay decorated for
the upscale Cashew Roca eating competition the next day, Miller said.
"Aside from the promotional value (Brown & Haley) might get from an
competition, because we've got an open house, they might want to do
with a piece of Cashew Roca for each person coming into the
convention center," Miller
said. "I imagine that's got to be of value to them. I could give
them a free booth to sell
their products as Christmas presents."
Ah, Christmas. The biggest sales season of the year for Brown &
Haley. But without the
company's consent, alas, the Cashew Roca World Eating Championship
"We're very, very negative on it," Clair said.
Unless . . .
"What about an eating competition featuring your Mountain Bars?" I
they once known as Mount Tacoma bars?"
"Ah, Mountain Bars," he said. "That's a different story. They're
soft. They're fun. They're
enjoyed by many people. They have a long history."
Maybe we'll host a world-eating championship after all.
So how many Mountain Bars do you think you can eat in six minutes?
Dan Voelpel: 253-597-8785
LOAD-DATE: September 18, 2004
I'm sure you've all heard, but I have to mention that Ray "The
Bison" Meduna has announced his retirement from the sport of
competitive eating. Ray's a really nice guy, and I know I speak for
lots of folks when I say I hope his retirement is only temporary.
There are a few new pictures in the gallery to tide you over. Good
luck Ray in everything you do!
You can read more at Beautiful Brian's website, which I'm sure
you're reading regularly anyway:
So, I received the latest issue of "The Gurgitator" earlier this
month...THE resource for fans of competitive eating. I'm pretty
sure I have a subscription. I kinda went on an online ordering
spree that sunny April day...but I digress.
The latest issue revolves around the Fourth of July event at
Nathan's, as evidenced by the cover, which features Kobayashi in a
classic "Yay, Me" pose. The cover picture is in the gallery, and
here's two of the short news items contained within:
Wailing Wall of Fame:
Complaints have been streaming in over the recently unveiled Wall of
Fame at Surf & Stillwell Avenues. The 70-foot hig 2D Mount Rushmore
of Eating includes images of Ed Krachie, Kobayashi, Jarvis, Lipsitz,
Mike DeVito, The Frankster and a host of other eating greats. Not
enough greats, however, to please everyone. Curtis Sliwa, Gersh
Kurtzman, Steve Keiner and numerous other grumblers have made their
disapproval heard. One Web site posting said: Kid Cary DeGrossa is
up there and not Dellarosa...? What a disgrace. When reached for
comment, Nathan's spokesperson George Shea said: "Kid Cary may only
have eaten 13 hot dogs and buns in competition, but he opened up the
sport to groupies, an enormously positive advancement for all
Giselle's note: We have a couple of pictures of the wall in
in the gallery, sent to us by none other than Kevin Lipsitz himself
Paul is Dead, Kobayashi is Not:
Rumors swirled this week when a national radio station erroneously
reported that eating superstar Takeru Kobayashi was dead. Phone
calls--ranging from the bemused to the concerned--flooded IFOCE HQ,
prompting officials to issue a statement calming fans. "Kobayashi
is alive and he will compete on Sunday," said IFOCE president
Richard Shea. "This may have started after he was photographed
competing barefoot in an eating contest."
Giselle's note: I may be young, but even I get the joke here. This
article is referencing the "Paul is Dead" rumour that plagued the
Cute Beatle in the 60's. Crazed fans uncovered all sorts
of "evidence." Look at the cover of Abbey Road, and you'll see that
Paul is walking barefoot--supposedly a clue. Read all about it in
the nifty book "The Walrus was Paul," by R. Gary Patterson.
That's all I'm going to post for now...you can subscribe to the
It's mailed in a plain white wrapper, hilariously enough.
Just added five more competitive eating-relatd articles to
the "Files" section, which brings us to a grand total of 70. I'm
also adding a few new pictures including brand-new wallpapers over
the weekend, so keep an eye out for that.
And for anybody who got a copy of my homework in the
digest...sorry! I'm working on a multimedia project for an Online
Journalism class, and I accidentally posted my working script to the
wrong Yahoo group.
Do you eat to compete? Are you a reigning eating champion trying to
keep your title or are you getting ready to win that first place
title you missed last time by just one hot dog, taco, pie, etc.?
Perhaps you're a rookie getting ready to enter your first competitive
eating contest. Rookies, veterans, and reining champions of the
competitive eating world we want to hear from you! Please Email us
at eater@... with your name, location, phone number, and
competitive eating background/story.
Yes, I know this is old news, but take a look at the new IFOCE
This is from the official mailing list:
Please take a moment to visit the new-look IFOCE web site, which has
been redesigned to be as eater- and fan-friendly as possible, with a
features section, expanded eater profiles and an easy-to-navigate
column. During the past six months, IFOCE.com has received nearly
300,000 individual visitors (an average of 1,639 individual visits
day). This is a tribute to the appeal of the wonderful individuals
are members of the organization. Thank you very much.
Giselle talking now: while you're looking through the official
website, don't forget these info-packed sites from the eaters
Frequently updated with loads of exclusive info: Beautiful Brian
Don Lerman (this one's got music!):
Right, there hasn't been much going on this month. I have an excuse
for the first part of December (finals!) and my paltry excuse for
the second half of the semester is...Christmas. I've added new
pictures to the "Pictures" section and articles to the "Files"
section. I'm also going to attend to my e-mail inbox, which I
haven't looked at or made any replies to in weeks (groan). Happy
New Year! Cheers, Giselle.
Well, I'm back in school which means I'm back online. Any e-mails
sent to me during the Winter break will be returned in a jiffy!
Anyway, thought I'd share what's in the latest Gurgitator, the
official newsletter of the IFOCE. Well, the latest Gurgitator that
I've gotten. I'm utterly captivated by the Gurgitator. They've got
this tongue-in-cheek writing style which makes it funny, but not
necessarily in a disrespectful manner, although sometimes you don't
know if they're laughing-with or laughing-at, and this is quite a
Gosh, the things I could do if I worked for the Gurgitator. I feel
like submitting my resume. Hire me, IFOCE! I'll have my bachelor's
degree in journalism in five months! I've interned at major news
publications! I can write about eating contests!
*Dale Boone snagged the cover. "Dale Boone Stirs Up Controversy!"
(the cover is in the Photos section). Apparently, Boone's third
baked bean eating victory at the 84 Lumber baked-bean eating contest
was the subject of some controversy regarding his utilization of a
water jug to "cool his beans." Huh.
*Crazy Legs Conti's attempt to get his mom a really nice Christmas
gift was thwarted when he failed to place at a recent Pozole eating
event. The contest, which Carlene LeFevre took the top prize in,
offered dazzling awards of cash and traditional Acoma Pueblo
Pottery. You see, "Conti's mother loves Acoma Pueblo Pottery more
than anything in the world, except her son." Awww.
*Recent records: Cookie Jarvis takes the prize at the Mo's Irish
Pub corned beef challenge in Milwaukee. Sonya Thomas is declared
Taco Queen of the universe at the Zocalo Taco Eating Contest.
Badlands Bookers destroys 7 pounds of cheesecake and the competition
at the Downtown Atlantic Cheesecake Eating Contest.
There's loads more in the newsletter. I really recommend
subscribing, it's a short publication but it's damn interesting!
Back in a bit. Cheers.
The retail value of the food eaten at the contest alone is a
worthwhile prize. However, the Boomtown Lobster-Eating Challenge
will post a total of $3,500 in prize money for first, second and
third places -- and a trip to Maine in August for the Lobster!
Lobster! World Lobster Eating Championship for the winner. This is
a great event for anyone who wants to head to Reno for a quick
weekend. The event will take place at 1 pm on Saturday, April 9 at
the Silver Screen Buffet at the Boomtown Casino & Hotel.
Also, consider the National Sweet Corn-Eating Championship at the
Sweet Corn Fiesta in West Palm Beach, FL, on Sunday, April 24.
You must be 21 years old for the Boomtown contest, 18 years or over
for sweet corn.
Please go to http://www.ifoce.com/contests.php to register.
Keep an eye on the site, there are more contests to come!
Giselle: Wow, that's some prize for the lobster eating contest. And
you get to stuff yourself with lobster. Good Lord, they should be
charging for admission! Sounds good to me!
Wow, we're up to 125 members. Neat. How'd that happen? Last time I
checked we were up to about 80.
Anyway, added 5 new text articles about competitive eating and/or the
IFOCE, bringing us to a grand total of about 75. That's a lot. But I
want more! If anybody has any text articles lying around that they
don't see in here, I'd appreciate greatly if you could post it or
email it to me so I can make it available. I have nothing to offer
you but my gratitude. Hey, wait, I've got stickers! To hell with
gratitude! Whoever sends me new text articles gets stickers!
Oooh, big news in the picture section...I finally got another copy of
PhotoShop (yaaaaay!) and have added that much-delayed Bison Meduna
wallpaper (YOU try making a wallpaper with Microsoft Paint) Right
it's not showing up, so it's currently me and My Powerful Brain
against the YahooGroups software, but stay tuned. It should be there
shortly. Damn, I love PhotoShop.
I may be switching accounts from this one to one using my real name
signed up for my current yahoo account way back when I was in high
school, yikes). So I'm not stuffed in a trunk somewhere, it's still
me but posting under a different name. Cheers, Giselle
Thought you all oughta know that Mr. Ray "Bison" Meduna was recently
awarded a Good Samaritan Award from Boeing (the folks who make all
planes and, well, plane-related things). Neat, huh? Pictures up in
gallery. Been having trouble with the gallery, but I will figure it
out any second now! Cheers, Giselle
I cannot believe that we've recieved three spam emails on this board
this month. I'm terribly, sorry; I usually try to get rid of this
stuff within 24 hours. Rest assured that all internet spam posts
will get immediately deleted. I also ban the offending people
immediately, but not before sending THEM spam and just generally
being mean to them. Grrr!
By the way, this came in the mail the other day. It's cake, folks--
how can you refuse?
From the Official IFOCE mailing list:
On the morning of Tuesday, May 10, will be the
World Cake-Eating Championship
at Grand Central Station, NYC, 9:30 a.m.
More details to follow soon on www.ifoce.com.
Those 18 and over interested in competing can email back:
Please only email back if you're sure you can attend.
Remember registration does not guarantee a spot in the event -
confirmation is necesary.
Contest will be a set weight of cake, first to finish. Type of cake
and other details coming soon.
P: (212) 627-5766, F: (212) 627-5430
Here's interesting news--there's going to be a qualifier for the
July 4 Nathan's classic in San Francisco! Here's what I got in the
e-mail--but they don't mention which Century Theater it's going to
take place at! Ack! Actually, there's technically no Century
Theater in SF proper--there's one in Daly City and one in South San
Nathan's Qualifier Added!
An official qualifier for the 2005 Nathan's Famous International
Fourth of July will occur on at 12 noon on June 4th at Century
Theatres in San Francisco CA. Registration strictly through
IFOCE.com. Additional details to follow.
In related news, here's an interesting recent article from
sfgate.com, the website for the local San Francisco Chronicle
paper. Check out the original site for some interesting links.
ASIAN POP: Superchomp
Korean-born Sonya Thomas is the No. 1 ranked female competitive
eater in the USA.
Amy Moon, SF Gate
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Sonya Thomas is thin. At 5 feet 5 inches and 99 pounds, the
Alexandria, Va., resident is one of those people about whom you
think, "She must eat like a bird." And, in fact, she does, but only
because birds supposedly eat twice their body weight in food.
Not surprisingly, her name notwithstanding, Thomas is Korean. Have
you ever gone out for Korean BBQ? How did you feel when you left the
table? Full? I thought so. (I once asked a Korean friend whether her
parents approved of her white boyfriend (now husband), and she
sighed and said, "Well, he's a good eater, so that was good.")
Thomas, South Korean born, 37 years old and single, is the No. 1
female competitive eater in the United States. She is ranked second
in the world, with 22 world titles, and regularly outeats men four
and five times her size in contests held throughout the year,
earning the self-appointed moniker the Black Widow."
For those unfamiliar with this sport, competitive eating is just
what it sounds like: Contestants sit down in front of a huge pile of
baked beans or matzo balls or pulled-pork sandwiches, the timer
starts and they eat as much as they can, as fast as they can, until
the time is up.
Lest you think this is some cheesy county-fair sideshow, know that
competitive eating has become a hugely popular sport (a designation
some observers object to) with its own governing body, the
International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).
The number of contests has grown from 12 eating events in 1997 to
more than 100 last year, 20,000 people show up to watch the Wingbowl
each year and Nathan's Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Championship, the
Super Bowl of competitive eating, appeared on the Jumbotron in Times
Square last year. According to Richard Shea of the IFOCE,
competitive eating is the fastest-growing sport in the world.
In 2002, Fox aired a two-hour prime time television special
called "The Glutton Bowl," in which food was dropped from a trash
can on a platform into a huge bowl 20 feet below. The world's top
eaters gorged on a lip-smacking smorgasbord of delicacies, including
mayonnaise, butter and cow tongue.
Competitive eating has spawned its own celebrities as well. The No.
1 eater in the world, Takeru "the Tsunami" Kobayashi, won the last
Nathan's contest by eating 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes, doubling the
previous record. The 5-foot-7-inch, 145-pound Kobayashi also blew
away the elephantine competition on "The Glutton Bowl" by
outscarfing them and wrapping up the proceedings by slurping down 50-
plus cow brains.
The diminutive Thomas is second in the world only to the similarly
slender gobblemeister, the latest and greatest in a tradition of
Japanese eaters who pose an ever increasing challenge to American
eating supremacy. (The Coney Island title went to a Japanese eater
in 1997, and the Japanese have owned it ever since).
On the IFOCE Web site is a proclamation: "There is an century-old
prophecy within the competitive-eating community, dismissed by most,
that foretells the rise of the One Eater, a woman who will electrify
America's gurgitators and lead them to international victory once
again. Like Joan of Arc before her, this eater will be slender of
stature but mighty in strength. In recent months, the prophecy has
been mentioned more and more frequently as the eaters have watched
Sonya Thomas excel in nearly every contest she enters."
As the summer season approaches for Nathan's qualifiers -- smaller
regional hot-dog-eating contests whose winners qualify to compete in
the championships on July 4 and take a crack at winning the coveted
mustard belt -- those who care about these sorts of things may be
wondering whether Kobayashi will retain his title, and maybe a few
will also wonder whether the teeny-tiny Thomas could do the
seemingly impossible and bring gluttonous glory back to the U.S.A.
Her record speaks for itself. Some of Thomas's recent
-- March 20, 2005 -- 46 dozen (552) oysters in 10 minutes. -- Feb.
12, 2005 -- 25 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes. -- Jan. 22,
2005 -- one 9-pound burger with cheese in 48 minutes, 10 seconds. --
Nov. 27, 2004 -- 52 hard-boiled eggs in five minutes. - Sept. 29,
2004 -- 48 soft-shell chicken tacos in 11 minutes. - Sept. 5, 2004 --
5.09 pounds of buffalo wings (162 wings) in 12 minutes -- Aug. 21,
2004 -- 9.76 pounds of lobster meat (38 soft-shell lobsters) in 12
minutes. -- July 4, 2004 -- 32 Nathan's hot dogs and buns in 12
minutes, a new women's world record (and American record)
How It All Began
Thomas, who grew up poor in South Korea, was born competitive. "I
hate to lose," she said. "I hate to lose." Thomas moved to the
United States in 1997 and settled in Alexandria. Back then, she had
little else in her life besides a job, and her spirit continued to,
well, hunger for more. It was so bad, Thomas said, that she became
depressed and even considered suicide. But everything changed in
2002, when, on television one day, she saw Nathan's Coney Island Hot
Dog Eating Championship. She knew in a split second it was for
her. "It was my dream, " she said. "I just wanted to be there. They
looked like celebrities because they were on TV eating."
To get there, she had to win a qualifying regional contest. But
Thomas had no experience with eating fast, and she didn't normally
eat hot dogs, so she bought two from 7-Eleven and set a timer. One
minute passed, and she was still on her first dog. "Oh, my God. Yes,
one minute," she said. "That was Christmastime, Christmas Day 2002.
I say, 'I can't finish one hot dog in one minute. How can I be
"And then I give up," she continued. "'OK,' I say, 'I'm not going to
try. If I cannot do well, then there's no point in losing. I don't
like to lose.'" But she watched the video of the contest again. "And
then I saw Takeru Kobayashi -- No. 1 in the world. When I look at
him, he's so small, like me, and look at him -- he's a human being.
He's human. Why can't I?" A month later, she decided to give it
another try. She ate 15 hot dogs in 12 minutes and thought, "OK, now
Thomas entered the Molly Pitcher Qualifier in New Jersey.
Jason "Crazy Legs" Conti (ranked 17th in the United States), who
also competed that day, remembers her appearance. "I did not notice
the petite Korean-American woman patiently waiting for the contest
to begin. No one else noticed her, either," he wrote in Topic
magazine. "And then this tiny, tiny woman named Sonya Thomas
delicately put away her 18th hot dog and bun, smiled and won."
Thomas said, "That first eating contest, I was nervous, but I won
that one -- 18 hot dogs with bun in 12 minutes."
Winning the qualifier meant she was eligible for the big show:
Nathan's. Conti wrote, "On the Fourth of July, 2003, Sonya appeared
nervous. This, the ultimate eating extravaganza, was only her second
contest. I don't think anyone knew what to expect of the Tinkerbell-
size lady sandwiched between two 400-pound men. Sonya looked like
she would be more at home at a beauty pageant than at an all-you-can-
"With a dazzling smile and demure wave, she calmly and neatly ate 25
hot dogs and buns, placing fourth and setting a new female record,"
Thomas simply said, "Then I move up. One week later, I ate 25. Like
moving up, you know. Improve myself. Every time, I just improve
The eating technique various so-called gurgitators use is a source
of much speculation. Some competitive eaters religiously watch
videos of Kobayashi to analyze his style so they can improve theirs.
One secret to fast hot dog eating is dunking the bun so it's easier
to swallow and you don't need to spend time drinking water from a
cup between bites. The hot dogs can't go down whole, either. "You
have to chew a little, because if you don't chew it, you can choke,"
said Thomas. (Apparently, Kobayashi swears by the "Solomon
approach," breaking hot dogs and buns in half first.) "You have to
have a strong jaw, too," said Thomas. "It gets tired, your jaw."
You also want to guard against the involuntary act that can shame
you and get you disqualified from an event, variously known as
a "reversal of fortune," a "Roman incident," "urges contrary to
swallowing" or, more commonly, throwing up. According to Thomas,
people tend to vomit because they're eating so fast, they're not
paying attention. "You have to try to get time for burps, and
belching, to make yourself comfortable, and then you can continue to
do it," she said.
Many observers subscribe to Ed Krachie's "belt of fat" theory, which
states that thin people have an advantage because abdominal fat can
inhibit stomach expansion. In 1998, competitive eater Krachie wrote
a journal article -- rejected, not surprisingly, by many scientific
journals in the United States and Canada -- called "Can Abdominal
Fat Act as a Restrictive Agent on Stomach Expansion? An Exploration
of the Impact of Adipose Tissue on Competitive Eating."
Suffice it to say that the very top eaters are slim but the majority
of players are gargantuan folks used to packing away whole chickens
and cakes and demolishing all-you-can-eat buffets with a great deal
of pleasure and a modicum of pride as well.
As for pre-event training, Kobayashi supposedly shrinks his stomach
by running, then expands it with cabbage and water to teach the
organ to distend. He is also said to eat only one huge multihour
meal a day.
Thomas follows a similar regimen. According to her, when she lived
in Korea, she was heavier than she is now by 30 pounds, all due to
her diet and her job as a typist: "I never move my body." And she
ate all day. "I don't drink any water, I just eat lots of junk food,
like snacks all the time," Thomas recalled. "I don't eat meals. When
I go to eat a meal, I eat a little bit, not much. But I was
constantly eating snacks."
Nowadays, Thomas' routine couldn't be more different from her habits
of old. Every day, she hits the treadmill for 1 1/2 hours. "Walking
fast on incline, high incline," she said. "Before work. Never after
work. I'm too tired."
She eats only one meal a day, from 6 to 9 p.m., generally at her
beloved Burger King. A normal meal for her? "Chicken Whopper,
grilled chicken, right?" she said. "Without mayonnaise. I don't eat
mayonnaise. I don't eat any fatty things."
Is that because you don't want to gain weight?
"Yes, I have to watch out, too, right?"
Really?! You're 99 pounds.
"Oh, no! Even though you're 99 pounds, you have to watch out because
if you have a habit of putting on mayonnaise all the time, then you
have to have that. So I have to say to myself, 'Anytime I eat a
sandwich, I don't want to eat mayonnaise, but I want ketchup, or
She does allow herself some leeway: "But one thing, OK? One thing, I
love Burger King french fries. I love it. I cannot skip my fries. I
have to eat them every day. Really. I eat large french fries with
that Chicken Whopper. Every day. And then a five-piece Chicken
Tenders. And then I drink 42-ounce -- Burger King king-size cups --
Diet Cokes, about three, with my meal."
Do you think this is healthy?
"That's my style."
You feel good, though? You feel healthy?
"Yeah, I feel good. Really."
So, does Thomas pal around with all the other eaters she competes
against -- big guys four times her size with names like Bill "El
Wingador" Simmons, Eric "Badlands" Booker and Dale "Mouth o' the
South" Boone? She claims she's not a social person. "I don't like
it -- too boring for me," she said. "Me is always my way. I want to
do it my way. I'm very selfish; I'm very stubborn. That's my
Her way, however, appears to be working quite well for her. Thomas'
appetite is legendary. And she works it. After the lobster-eating
contest, in which she blew away reigning champ Kevin "the Boss"
Cross in his home state of Maine by eating 9.76 pounds of lobsters
(38 of them), she was asked whether she could eat more and she
replied, "Yes, but something else -- not a lobster." After winning
the first Turducken eating championship, scarfing eight plates of
chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey in 12 minutes, she
remarked, "I don't really like turkey, but this was so good that I
could eat more." And radio personality Drew Garabo of WTKS, in
Orlando, Fla., chronicles how Thomas went head to head on-air with
his producer and an unnamed listener in a quesadilla-eating contest.
Thomas blew them both out of the water by eating 31 1/2 quesadillas
in five minutes. Then she settled into the interview with a large
bucket of popcorn. Remember, she weighs 99 pounds.
But putting it away isn't always a piece of cake for her. She won
one contest by eating 11 pounds of cheesecake with coffee on an
empty stomach in nine minutes. "Oh, my God, I was so sick!" she
said. (By her own admission, she did end up suffering a reversal of
fortune after this one -- the only time ever.)
But the hardest was the recent Big Daddy Barrick Burger contest,
hosted by Las Vegas' Plaza Hotel, which she won by eating a 9-pound
burger in 48 minutes. Thomas said it was the toughest because of the
quantity of food. Now, 46 dozen oysters may seem like a larger
amount, but, according to Thomas, the burger was much harder because
she ate the bun first, dunking it in water, according to her usual
style. Big mistake. After about a pitcherful of water, she still had
to eat the meat itself (more than 7 pounds). She said that the
combined weight of food and water is probably 17 or 18 pounds.
"After I eat that burger, my stomach has no room," she said. "After
every other eating contest, I still have room, I still can drink
water, I still can eat ice cream. Even though I ate 46 Crystal
burgers in eight minutes, afterward, I went to the food court, I ate
Chinese food. Because I had more room." Next year, with the Barrick
Burger, she said, "Meat first, bun later."
The best thing Thomas ever ate? "Oh, man, oysters and chicken
wings," she said. "Oysters. Easy to eat, and I like them. Chicken
wings are so much fun, and I like them, too. But my favorite thing,
I think, is hard-boiled eggs."
Ooh, that would be hard.
"Oh, no, it's not hard. Easy for me. Other people cannot do it. Only
Why do you think that is?
"Think about this -- 65 hard-boiled eggs in six minutes and 40
seconds. Do you think other people can do it? They don't want to
What's your secret?
"I think I love to eat eggs. OK, here's my technique: I bite a
little bite, one or two bites, and drink water, drink a little bit.
Zip, you know? And constantly do it. So easy for me. I think that's
my specialty. Hard-boiled eggs is my specialty."
Sonya Thomas doesn't live by gluttony alone. She still works full
time as a manager for Burger King, even though she is the highest
earner in the U.S. eating community. "Right now, I'm good. I'm good
at making money," she said. "It's OK, but not enough for a living."
And she says she'd do it even if no money were involved. "I love
doing it because I can win," Thomas added. "That's my hobby. Makes
Besides, she loves her job too much to quit. "You know why I work
fast food?" she said. "I want to be the best manager, too. When I'm
working, I work so fast, nobody can beat me." Her allegiance to
Burger King is the stuff a corporate ad exec dreams about. "I love
working at Burger King," she added. "I don't like McDonald's food.
No way. I love Burger King food."
So, what are her goals? "My first goal is, I want to have my own
Burger King, just one store," Thomas said. "I really want it. I can
do it." She thinks it'll take her 10 years to save up enough money --
a half million dollars in cash and a million more for the property
to buy one franchise. Her second goal is to be the No. 1 eater in
the world: She wants to beat Takeru Kobayashi. "I have to practice,"
she said. "I have to practice more technique. Then. I don't know."
Thomas thinks she has a chance in a short contest like an eight- to
10-minute one because then she can focus on technique. "See, if I
swallow fast, then I can compete with him," she said. "But my
swallow is not fast enough, that's the only thing. And stomach
capacity -- he can stretch his stomach so big, 5 pounds, 20 pounds.
He can handle that, his stomach, but me? I don't think so."
You can bet she'll put every ounce of steely determination she has
into trying, though. "Koreans care about winning," she told
me. "Korean people, their mind. Do you see that? In all sports, they
try to be the top one. They care only about top one; they don't care
about second one, third one. You know, it's Korean style. That's why
I learned that, too. In my life, I have to be top one -- you know,
that's me. I cannot take second place, third place."
She might be Korean in spirit, but Thomas loves living in
America. "Yeah, I love it," she said. "More freedom. You can do
anything you want. In America, there's so much freedom. I like it."
Her Web site says it all: "And beneath what you may see on the
surface, know this: My Yankee Doodle Dandy heart proudly pumps red,
white and blue blood to the beat of "God Bless America." One day ...
One day? Could that one day be July 4? If so, Takeru Kobayashi had
God Bless America, indeed.
Yeah, so by now we all know that MTV featured an eating contest on
MTV Movie Awards earlier this week. For those of us (or me, really)
who missed it the first time, the pre-show and show will re-air
Saturday morning at noon, and I believe Sunday as well (check local
listings). And for those of us who like spoilers...
Just got this from the official IFOCE mailing list. And remember
kids--the big July 4 hot dog spectacular is coming up, so set those
Here are some new IFOCE events coming this summer:
Saturday, July 9
Bacci World Pizza Eating Championship
First $1,500, Second, $750, Third $250
-There will also be an amateur event for all you first timers.
Sunday, July 17
World Rib Eating Championship
Chinook Winds Casino, part of Smokin' at the Ocean Food Fest
Lincoln City, OR
First $1,500, Second $750, Third $500
Saturday, July 30
World Watermelon Eating Championship
Brookville Community Picnic
First prize $500
Saturday, August 6
Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship
Part of Johnsonville Brat Days Festival 8/4-6
Total $11,000 in prizes
As always you must be 18 years or over. To register go to:
Registration via the web does not guarantee entry. You must receive
P: (212) 627-5766, F: (212) 627-5430
Well, I got my special July issue of the Gurgitator recently. It's
a pre-program for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest, which is a
bit odd because it was mailed out on July 5. Ah, well. Highlights:
Can Anybody Stop Koby's Fifth on the 4th? And the answer was: no.
No they could not.
Tim "Eater X" Janus Named 2004 IFOCE Rookie of the Year - Tim had a
mighty fine year. First, on June 25 he won the Shoo-Fly Pie title
by eating 5.6 pounds of the sweet stuff in eight minutes. Go Jan-
Fried Clam Eating Champ Maury the Mollusk Reappears on Circuit:
After four decades, Maury the Mollusk (no last name given, or
neccessary, really) has returned to the sport. Gout? What gout?
This clam fiend is back in action, even if he is a retired lawyer.
A History of Nathan's Famous' Hot Dog Eating Contest: Once, there
was a hot dog. And the Lord said, it was good.
Gersh Kurtzman's Column - Chewin' the Fat: Handicapping the 2005
Contest. Gersh thinks Kobayashi will win.
So, that's it for the this latest issues. I'm currently scanning in
pictures as we speak. Will be updating more often, now that I'm no
longer working three writing jobs. Cheers! Giselle
Yeah, yeah. I just started a new job at a magazine, which means I get
approximately zero time to myself. But I'm still as big a fan as I
ever was! New pics and articles! Squee!
New articles up! For some reason, there's always a glut of eating articles
around Thankgiving and Christmas. As if saying to the indulging proletariat,
"Don't worry folks...you're not overdoing it. Why, these people can inhale an
entire turkey within minutes. Have seconds!"
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Whew...I have been away for a while (I started a new job!) but I won't
forget this group. I have raided Lexis-Nexis once again, and new
articles are up. And I finally saw the MTV "True Life" eater
documentary! Squee! Cheers, Giselle
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