Posted by: Mark Nichols
17 Feb 2008
I participated in my first ever eating contest a couple of weeks ago. I was driving home listening to the local classic rock radio station. They advertised that you could show up and participate in a chicken wing eating contest, and since I've always wanted to know my eating limits, I decided to give it a try. Plus it was a free meal.
When I showed up, I learned there were only 16 seats, so I had to be randomly drawn to participate - luckily I was chosen. I got to see others participate before my group of four had their chance, and it seemed I'd be able to at least put in a respectable showing. I was a little nervous, since everyone else there was bigger than me, but I figured I might be a Kobayashi type.
It finally came to my turn. We had 9 minutes to eat as many wings as possible. We were warned to clean the wings, meaning, to get as much meat off as possible. The timer started and we were off. I hadn't eaten any food in so long that day that my stomach didn't take to the idea of accepting wings very easily. I was cramming food into my mouth, but my throat wasn't remembering to swallow. I even heard one person in the crowd say, "Don't forget to swallow". It was something I actually had to concentrate on for the first few wings.
About 3 wings in I realized I was out of my league. The two guys next to me seemed to already be on their 6th wing. Later I wondered if I had a larger concentration of wings instead of legs (I know - it's called a chicken wing eating contest, but legs were included. And it seems to me legs would be easier to clean since there's only one bone instead of two. I was left to console my poor performance with these thoughts.) But I plodded on in my eating. I felt my stomach finally start agreeing to the food around wing number 9. By wing number 17 or so, my stomach had relapsed to its original mode. And by the time the competition was over, I had eaten 26. Actually, with about two seconds left and my mouth still full of food, I was able to cram the meat of one more in there somehow - they counted meat you had in your mouth at the buzzer. I finished eating it all probably 2 minutes later. Not sure it should have counted, but I don't think the organizers cared since the leaders were getting 40 or 50.
I figured beforehand that respectability could be bought by reaching 30 wings. I had failed, but at least I wasn't in last place. I was 14th out of the 16 competitors. One person ate 24 I think, and one person threw up, which meant automatic disqualification.
They were running video of past competitions and I saw that someone previously ate around 80. Thinking that was pretty impressive, I looked up the food eating records at the International Federation of Competitive Eating website. I'm thinking that guy has a shot at the "Chicken Wings, Long Form" record of 182 wings in 30 minutes held by Joey Chestnut. But then again, maybe he had a plate of legs.