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Food for Naught

by anna at 09:17 AM on February 01, 2004

Maybe you needed to know about this, maybe you didn’t. Nonetheless, you do now.

Who knew that such a cult of personality has come to surround the world’s “top eaters?” Guys like Godsmack and Paul “Totally Apauling” Lawrence, who rides into competitions on his signature cow tongue-mobile. These massive guys have flair to spare, but they’re running scared of one Sonya Thomas. Thomas is described as “competitive eating’s 2003 rookie of the year.” Her gastronomic feats include devouring 167 chicken wings, 65 eggs in just under seven minutes and 7 3/4 pounds of duck, turkey and chicken in twelve minutes. In the latter contest she bested “415 pound reigning champ Ed ‘Cookie’ Jarvis” by a razor-thin margin of a 1/4 pound. Bearing in mind, a 1/4 pound is the size of a hamburger at McDonald’s. Would you like fries with that? How about a handful of aspirin to save your life in the event of a heart attack?

This girl is an all-you-can-eat buffet owner’s worst nightmare. She weighs in at an almost anorexic 99 pounds. Ah but she’s anything but anorexic. Her secret for remaining so svelte despite her power-eating pastime consists of one huge midday meal and two grueling hours on the treadmill. (Forget Atkins.) Of competitive eating, she insists, “It’s not stupid. It’s the same as any sport. All sports are about mental and physical toughness.” I guess that helps explain where all that food goes once inside her lithe frame.

Thomas is Korean-American. I only mention this because there is this stereotype of Asians as stoic, mentally focused people who can shatter lumber with their bare hands. But of course, the vast majority of Asians would merely fracture their pinkies, just like anybody else. (Some might say we have raunchy comedienne Margaret Cho to thank for dispelling many of these silly notions about Asian-Americans.) Just as the vast majority would gag on their third or fourth hard-boiled egg or cow tongue morsel. Not this Thomas, who won a $17,000 car in the Wing Bowl. She defeated a 384 pound prison guard. That prize was atypical, however. Most of the time the top eater goes home with a grand or so, barely enough to cover expenses. The rest go home with a major case of the bloats. Gas-X!

So it’s not about money---at least not yet. Rather, it seems, competitive eaters and their loyal fans are just out to have a good ol’ time. The eaters are also engaging in what sounds like an extremely unhealthy practice. Look for our nanny-state government to get wind of it, appoint a commission to study it and then pass laws regulating the caloric content of competitive food. See: Extreme Fighting.

Lawmakers will call in experts to lament the “crisis” of obesity in America, particularly among our youth. Seems Americans eat bad food and lounge around playing video games or surfing the net. And I tend to agree. You do see a lot of overweight people around these days. One of them works at my office. At 32 she has diabetes, hypertension and some sort of kidney ailment. I saw her with her family, devouring mass quantities of food at the mall. Her husband and kids were all bulky and not in an NFL-lineman kind of way. It kind of amazes me that the offspring of obese parents don’t subsist on a steady diet of nothing like Calista Flockhart or Lara Flynn-Boyle. You’d think they’d see dad huffing and puffing after using his riding lawnmower and think, man, that’s not going to happen to me---in much the same way that many children of alcoholic parents eschew booze---especially when you consider the genetic predisposition angle.

Looks like the Super Bowl XXXCCI Pre-pre-pre-game Show Brought to You by Lexus is coming on. Pass those buffalo wings please. Oh wait, I don’t eat buffalo. I guess I’ll just gnaw on the celery sticks they serve on the side. Mmmm...celery.

comments (2)

There are quite a few overweight kids out there these days. I went to pick up my nephew from school last month and I couldn't believe how many fat kids were milling around. I don't remember that many kids being overweight when I was young. I think we played outside quite a bit more though. Kids these days have computers and video games and stay in front of them constantly. I mean, when I was young Pong then the original Atari came out but even they would get old after a while. We played sports like addicts. We used to have games pitting neighborhood versus neighborhood and they were brutal. There was always a bloody nose here and a broken finger there. We difinitely took it seriously, bragging rites at school and all.

by Ezy at February 2, 2004 10:28 AM

Yeah I think that's a big part of it. But around here almost all the kids play soccer. Maybe it's because that's only in fall and spring.

by anna at February 2, 2004 6:04 PM

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