One of the joys of turning the cable back on is that I am once again able to enjoy watching the worlds greatest sportsmen compete in amazing feats of athletics. I had such the pleasure on Saturday afternoon when I happened past ESPN 2 just as the 3rd Annual Krystal Hamburger Eating Square Off was about to start. All the competitive eating superstars were there: Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, Crazy Legs Conti, San Jose’s own Joey Chestnut, Tim “Eater X” Janus, who’s face was painted like the Ultimate Warrior, and the Michael Jordan of competitive eating Takeru Kobayahsi. Parenthetically, Janus is the founder of the Axis of Eaters. I have no idea what this means.
From listening to the commentators, the best part of the broadcast really, I learned that if Kobayashi were to win this competition he would retain his triple crown of competitive eating. The three “majors” are the Krystal Square Off, Nathans Famous Hot Dog Contest, and I believe the Johnsonville Brats eating contest. Koybayashi was the favorite. He’s the #1 ranked competitive eater by the IFOCE and has never lost a contest, but second ranked Joey Chestnut was expected to give him a run for his money. Never in their lives had the commentators seen “such a fine gathering of eaters.”
Besides being about the grossest thing I’ve ever subjected myself to watching, it was strangely enjoyable. None of the dozen or so competitors was overweight and they all seemed to use the same technique of dipping the burgers in water to soften up the bun and then cramming the whole thing in their mouth, followed by another one before the first could have possibly been past their molars. In listening to the commentary, I did learn that Janus had been the first to use iced tea rather than water, and everyone copied him, then he switched to lemonade, and everyone copied him again. Quite the trendsetter, though the face paint hasn’t seemed to catch on. They would also kind of bounce up and down, or shake back and forth, I guess to get the burgers to settle. No one hurled, but I did see a few close calls. Compelling television.
The competition was a close one with Kobayashi defending his title by ingesting 97 hamburgers in eight minutes, followed closely by Chestnut with 93. They, along with mohawked Patrick Bertoletti who finished 3rd with 76 burgers, shattered the previous years record of 69. Krystal burgers are about the size of a White Castle burger and could be eaten by a non-competitive eater, i.e. a normal human being, in about three bites. The commentators mentioned that they always believed Kobayashi could attain this level of eating if he was ever challenged as he was that day by Chestnut. He was pretty pumped up after the victory and the announcers had never seen him “emote so much.”
For those that are cable-less, there is a taste of what you’re missing. Pun intended. It’s either a lot of fun or the beginning of the end for Western Society. Here’s a clip of Joey Chestnut at the Nashville Krystal Qualifying contest tying the two minute mark of 28 burgers. Enjoy.