November 29, 2005

"'The Wall' is where you don't want to put any more in your mouth."

Said Ian Hickman, who competes in eating contests. You have to train for these things!
First he'll fill up on liquids. Then "I'll practice eating hot dogs when I'm full. The contest is going to be won not by someone who's hungry but by someone who's able to eat when they're full."
Others rely on "guzzling large volumes of water or chowing down low-calorie foods, such as cabbage, in the weeks leading up to an event."

And note that the best contestants these days are not fat!
"About eight out of the top 10 are svelte, athletic," said an eater who goes by the name "Crazy Legs" Conti, who stands 6-foot-3, weighs 210 pounds, and runs marathons. [Sonya Thomas, 5' 5" and 98 pounds] beat him handily last month at a Buffalo wing contest in Bethesda.

He and others buy into what they call the belt-of-fat theory, which supposes that abdominal fat inhibits the stomach from ballooning. "A thinner person has much more room for expansion. An eater like myself, unfortunately, is struggling to catch up," Conti said.
Funny. I like watching a good eating contest. But maybe you think these displays are immoral or obscene. If your reason for objecting to these contests is that the food could have been used to feed someone who is hungry, should you not regard every fat person as embodying the same immorality?

20 comments:

Telecomedian said...

I've tried to eat like these folks, thinking "I could do that - I could make a quick buck eating the hell out of some hot dogs." I figured I could knock back about 12 in 12 minutes to start off - WRONG! It is so much more difficult than I imagined. And messy!

Finn Kristiansen said...

When young, and in Tennessee visiting grandparents, they had the t.v. on some television show about students on campus that was popular at the time. There was an eating contest (bananas) right about the time I passed by the t.v., and it ruined by ability to like bananas for about 10 years.

I do think that excess, on any level, is immoral (wine bibbers and what not). However there is a core difference between those who voluntarily decide to eat huge amounts for money or attention, and those who rather slip and slide into obesity, and are unable to break free, despite effort. (I see someone like that in my mirror each morning, and still lay a bit of moral failure at my own feet).

While technically the world produces enough food for all and it is man-made "adventures" (as in, "Hey, what say we kill all the Tutsi with machetes, then burn down the crops, then go to the movies today") that create a lack of food, and eating contests hardly put a dent in the supply, there is still something obscene in a symbolic way about food contests in a world where so many people do go hungry and where so many more are enslaved to appetite and long to be free.

Dave said...

"If your reason for objecting to these contests is that the food could have been used to feed someone who is hungry"

The amount of food consumed at eating contests is, in the scheme of things, negligible and would do little to ameliorate starvation in the world.

Those who think eating contests are immoral because the food consumed could go to those who are hungry are not thinking cogently either about the amount of food consumed or the amount of people who have too little to eat. Those who tend to think in this manner are sentimentalists.

Goesh said...

I could maybe get down 6 hotdogs at best

Goesh said...

I could on the other hand heave a dwarf a good 5 feet on any given day

ploopusgirl said...

Yeah, althouse, because every fat person is an overeater! There aren't any with hypothyroidism or anything.

Ross said...

A pizza joint in Idaho Springs, Colo., had "the challenge." If two people could eat this pizza in an hour, they'd get the pizza free, 100 bucks, T-shirts and their pictures on the wall of fame.

The two biggest, eatingest guys in my group of backpackers barely made it halfway through this pizza -- which was almost revolting in its sheer mass.

The waitress said the last pair that had wolfed it down had been on a bicycle trip across the state, ridden some 100 miles that day, including more climbing over Rocky Mountain passes than you want to think of. They apparently didn't break a sweat.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

But who didn't love Paul Newman, as Cool Hand Luke, eating all those eggs in the movie?

Isn't there an official title for these gastronomic athletes?

APF said...


Yeah, althouse, because every fat person is an overeater! There aren't any with hypothyroidism or anything.

Your point is that the obesity "epidemic" in developed countries is due to the spread of thyroid dysfunction?

knoxgirl said...

careful, you're going to make Ann puke with that egg reference.

vbspurs said...

Yeah, althouse, because every fat person is an overeater! There aren't any with hypothyroidism or anything.

Mercy, she's back. And not in one of those nice threads about Alito, either.

Nooo. It had to be the Kobayashi thread too.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Isn't there an official title for these gastronomic athletes?

Gourmand Marathonist?

And may this ferruner inquire why ESPN broadcasts the main eating contest, I believe in Coney Island, every year?

Oh, and same question for the Spelling Bee.

I may understand the Coney Island one, because, well it requires practise, stamina, and dexterity, like golf...but where's the athletics in spelling??

TIA.

Cheers,
Victoria

miklos rosza said...

I watched the ht dog eating contest on ESPN this year, won by Kobayashi. The best moment for me was learning a new term.

"Uh oh, he looks like he's about to have a reversal."

A reversal! What a great way to say vomit.

ploopusgirl said...

Althouse said: "If your reason for objecting to these contests is that the food could have been used to feed someone who is hungry, should you not regard every fat person as embodying the same immorality?"

I said: "Yeah, althouse, because every fat person is an overeater! There aren't any with hypothyroidism or anything."

And APF asks: "Your point is that the obesity "epidemic" in developed countries is due to the spread of thyroid dysfunction?"


Where in my post did I mention anything about obesity epidemics or developed countries, OR their link to thyroid function? That's quite an assumption I made there, if so!

Actually, if you read her statement, Althouse pretty much said every fat person that exists must be an overeater, and I pointed out that that's not always necessarily true. I apologize for pointing out the truth?

I love you too Victoria. Haven't you killed one of your patient's while reading this blog yet? And gotten sent up the river on a malpractice and negligence charge?

Ann Althouse said...

Ploopusgirl: Read the recent post about my new, stricter comments policy. You must stop the abusive talk or I will delete your comments.

Ann Althouse said...

And, yeah, pretty much everyone who is fat overeats. Duh!

knoxgirl said...

I'm shocked, shocked! at the suggestion that people get fat by eating.

Or that you can be a med student and take a break every now and then.

gt said...

As someone who scored ridiculously high on the LSAT, I can say most questions that begin "every" have a "no" answer, so it was a bit of a strawperson argument.
But there are certainly moral aspects to what and how we eat. Food is not a zero sum game, so I'd be OK with somebody who stuffed themselves but also worked hard, or donated generously, to remove the political barriers that keep people from being able to feed themselves.
The french, for example, choose to spend more time on money on eating well, and less on the latest consumer electronics, than americans, but are not thereby more destructive of the environment (which related to carrying capacity and food supplies.)
I eat vegan and freegan in part out of concern that 6 million children will die of hunger this year, but I don't complete the cycle by using the savings to work to end tyranny and enable markets. Blogging is probably not enough.
So yes, I find such contests distasteful, but the ethical questions involved are not always simple. - arbitrary aardvark

jimmmy said...

you've got it all wrong. it's the lance armstrong types that are eating up all of the food. these freaks are burning up like 10,000 calories a day. a fat person can be fat buy eating 3,000 calories a day and burning 2,000. meanwhile, these uber-athletete types are eating three times as much, just to maintain their muscle mass.

XWL said...

Wow, a freegan has joined the discussion.

I always assumed when I saw a TV piece on this that it was a group of performance artists pulling a hoax upon some gullible TV News Producers.

Elective dumpster diving, that will solve the problems of the world.

Think Globally, Act Vagabondishly!

And these 'food athletes' like the great Kobayashi claim that they must train their stomach muscles to allow for an extreme expansion of the stomach to allow the stuffing of mass quantities without becoming engorged. (No explanation of how they eliminate all this food product without absorbing tens of thousands of calories, but it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out).Therefore his fitness is his greatest asset in beating the beefy boys.

He remade these competitions from fat guys being gluttinous into a zen like exhibition of mind over body, but the whole thing is still disgusting, and Kobayashi usually has the greenish pallor of a bulimic or laxative abuser after a competition, this can't be good for him in the long run, even if he doesn't digest all those calories.