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Weapons of mass digestion

1/29/2014

Each bacon-eating contestant will face 5 pounds of uncooked bacon, which, when cooked, ends up being closer to 3 pounds per person. About 70-75 pounds of donated Farmland Foods bacon will be used for the contest.

Each bacon-eating contestant will face 5 pounds of uncooked bacon, which, when cooked, ends up being closer to 3 pounds per person. About 70-75 pounds of donated Farmland Foods bacon will be used for the contest.

Sooey, pig pig pig! It’s that time once again. Time to forget all about the New Year’s resolutions of eating healthy and exercising. Time to put away your skinny jeans and break out the sweats. It’s time for bacon — lots and lots of bacon.

Since its inception in 2008, the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival’s Amateur Bacon Eating Competition has captivated audiences and inspired many bacon lovers line the table like pigs at the trough at slop-time, all vying to take a shot at the title. Eating a few pounds of delicious food doesn’t seem like that much of a challenge, does it? Then again, there’s a reason many folks avoid food challenges.

According to Crazy Legs Conti — professional eater, ranked No. 26 in the world by Major League Eating and International Federation of Competitive Eating — the best advice for beginners is to just have fun.

CVA_30 PAGE 11“It takes about five (competitions) to figure out how to eat in front of people and push oneself — I guess it is like filming pornography in that respect,” laughed Crazy Legs. (Jimmy Dean couldn’t be reached for comment.)

Each contestant begins with a plate of cooked bacon weighing 3 pounds. The crispy bacon tests the roofs of their mouths, their jaws, but most importantly, their stomach capacity. Being a fast eater is a skill, but without the ability to keep it down, it’s wasted. Every competitive eater has his or her own way of getting over the wall.

“The last two minutes are when dreams are made and realities are broken,” Crazy Legs said. “The only way is to use one’s mind, which has more room than the stomach. One must leave it all on the competitive eating table — figuratively, not literally, or you’ll be DQ-ed.”CVA_30 PAGE 112

In 2013, Molly Schuyler, a slender mother of four, managed to annihilate the competition. Schuyler, 33, crushed the record for being the first person to eat all three pounds of cooked bacon within less than the five-minute allotted time. She then proceeded to eat the bacon on her fellow contestants’ plates, proving that man or woman, big or small, it’s really anybody’s game. It’s “mind over stomach matter,” as Crazy Legs calls it.

“The mind can never fill up, but the stomach can,” Crazy Legs explained. “If one can focus their mind — like Scatman Crothers in ‘The Shining’ — then one will become a fine competitive eater.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

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