Wednesday afternoon Clark Maturo, a 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound eighth grader at Hopkins School, put his pride and digestive tract on the line for charity.
Maturo ate 15 burgers at the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop in an attempt to raise money for his school’s food drive and to break the Hopkins burger-eating record at the Doodle. While Maturo did not eclipse his school’s mark of 18, he did receive over 30 pledges, one of which promised $5 for each burger consumed.
The money will go to the Connecticut Food Bank, a private nonprofit organization that supplies emergency feeding programs around Connecticut.
John Maturo ’76, who is Clark’s father and the director of special projects in Yale’s facilities department, wrote in an e-mail that Clark was not initially aware of the philanthropic potential of his appetite.
Instead, Clark’s initial reasons for challenging the record were more personal.
“I decided to do it just for fun,” Clark said as he downed his 15th and final burger. “My brother’s very excited. My mom is scared.”
According to the elder Maturo, Clark scarfed down 13 burgers after school one day, prompting his friends to pressure him to challenge the burger-eating record. The Yankee Doodle record, set by William Stobierski on Oct. 21, 1999, is 28 burgers in two and a half hours. Clark’s Spanish teacher, Linda Isaacs, suggested he eat for charity.
Isaacs brought five of Clark’s friends to the Doodle and encouraged Clark to eat as many burgers as he could.
Clark’s friends made two posters cheering him on, one of a burger and one of a car, to symbolize the food drive.
Jordan Voloshin, one of Clark’s classmates who was at the Doodle to support his friend’s attempt at the record, said the food drive is a competition at Hopkins between grade levels.
Darlene Beckwith, who works at the Doodle, said the restaurant usually needs a day’s advance notice to ensure there will be enough burgers for a title shot.
“I wish I had a teacher like [Isaacs] when I was in school,” Beckwith said.
Unfortunately, Clark proved that even an eighth grader with the body of a Division I college football player has his physical limitations.
“He hit 13 or 14 at 30 minutes,” John Maturo said. “He’s so young. He hasn’t learned the endurance yet.”
While Clark did not break either record, he was not worried.
“I’m going for it again,” Clark said.
Burgers at the Doodle cost a little less than $2. Maturo’s father picked up the tab for all the burgers.