Many jaded lovers won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. Rather, they will likely be preoccupying themselves with full-fledged eat-athons, attempting to make any and all chocolate housed in heart-shaped boxes disappear. Forever.
Well, buck up, kids. We’ve all walked a mile in those embittered shoes, so enough about Valentine’s Day. Let’s talk about overconsumption.
On Feb. 8, I read a New York Times article titled, “Underground Gourmet: Mole Sets a Speed Record.”
Said “mole” is the star-nosed mole, a critter native to wetlands in the eastern United States. Said “speed record” is that of the fastest eating mammal thus far recorded: 10 mouthful-size chunks of said “gourmet” (earthworm), one at a time, in 2.3 seconds.
In other words, this furry little guy could kick some tail at your county fair’s pie-eating contest.
And although you probably couldn’t, nor would you want to, find this kind of gourmet in the buffet at G-Heav’s, I can still sense all of your ambitious nostrils flaring and competitive juices flowing. It’s clear what you’re thinking:
“Dude, I could totally eat a worm chunk in 0.23 seconds. That mole’s going down.”
Who knows why human beings derive great pride and satisfaction from eating more and eating faster than other human beings? Surely each of us has been challenged to chew and swallow six saltines in a minute, and each of us has emerged from the attempt coughing, laughing and blowing flecks of cracker all over our loved-ones. It’s simply in our nature.
The International Federation of Competitive Eating Web site affords some phenomenal statistics. Currently Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan holds the world record for hot dog consumption: 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va., is unmatched at 65 hard-boiled eggs in six minutes, 40 seconds. She’s also secured top seat in deep-fried asparagus, baked beans (the long-course competition), cheesecake, chicken nuggets (80 in 5 minutes), chicken wings, fruitcake, hamburgers, jambalaya, Maine lobster (38 lobsters in 12 minutes!), meatballs, oysters, pizza, pulled pork, quesadillas (31 4-inch quesadillas in five minutes), sweet potato casserole, toasted ravioli, tacos and, for what it’s worth, turducken (which doesn’t make sense to me or my spell-check).
Kobayashi boasts a healthy number of championships as well, including cow brains, which may tie with fruitcake as the grossest food one could ever want to consume in mass quantities.
These people can’t possibly enjoy eating the likes of 17.7 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes. They are, I would venture, the most competitive human beings in the world. So what if Lance Armstrong swept the Tour De France six years in a row with only one testicle? Some guy named Oleg Zhornitskiy ate four 32-ounce bowls of mayonnaise in eight minutes. That’s not courage. That’s an addiction to winning things.
And now a mole has put them all to shame. A mole with a funny-looking nose.
Now, before each of you spirited readers goes choking on saltines tonight in a noble effort to prove your food-wolfing prowess, consider a different option:
Here in New Haven we’ve got our own “underground gourmet,” affectionately referred to by us locals as “The Doodle.” The Yankee Doodle Sandwich Shop — as the joint is formally called — hosts an ongoing hamburger-eating contest that is currently topped off at 32 burgers.
Mind you, these are slim burgers. They go down like butter, because, well, they’re slathered in butter. I’ve always fancied I could pile them on top of one another and eat 50 or so.
Why would I fancy such a feat, you ask? Because I’m better than some stupid rodent. That’s why.
Eric Booker, eater of the 32 hamburgers, placed fifth in the 2004 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest behind both Thomas and Kobayashi.
But despite his failings in the hot dog department, Booker is our hometown hamburger-hero. Until his Doodle-burger count is bested, a small gold plaque engraved with the number 32 and Booker’s name will culminate a column of lesser plaques on the esteemed wall of the Yankee Doodle.
So, my fellow over-achiever, you could strut your stuff by shoving greasy cow-patties in your face.
Or, if you start your Monday night eat-athon after the Doodle closes, you could always find a lonely pal, buy 17 boxes of Russell Stover candies at Walgreens (they’re open 24 hours a day) and see who can eat the most chocolate in the least amount of time.
Go ahead. Kick his ass, sea bass.
Liz Kinsley can beat a furry rodent in an eating contest any day.