20 Eating Contests that will leave you wanting to explode

“Pain is temporary; pride is forever”. This was the message on the boy’s basketball team’s shirts in high school. At the time it didn’t mean too much to me but now I know just how much it means, especially in the world of competitive eating. All of the numbers are staggering, some of the food is downright disgusting. None the less, the competitors in these events do things that the average person could only dream of. Take a look at some of the competitions and how much some of these people manages to fit in their stomach.

[March] Berkwood Farms Bacon Eating Contest – A annual event held at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa. First sanctioned in 2008 and officially organized under the Iowa Bacon Board. The festivals mission is to improve the enjoyment of all things bacon by providing education, recognition, advocacy, and research on behalf of the masses, everyone, everywhere, all of them. Today the event attracts around 14,000 bacon lovers from all over the world.

[April] National Sweet Corn Eating Championship- Held annually at the South Florida Sweet Corn Fiesta in West Palm Beach FL. Celebrating 19 years the festival is sponsored by the Western Palm Beach Farm Bureau. The world record is held by Carmen Cincotti of New Jersey with 61.75 ears of corn in 12 minutes. Make sure to bring plenty of your own dental floss for this one.

[April] The National Harbor World Peeps Eating Championship Theinaugural match was held in 2016. Located in the National Harbor community near Washington D.C., the contestants have five minutes to devour all the peeps that they can. The current record holder for the event is Matt Stone with 255 Peeps in five minutes. This kind of makes me want to put a Peep in the microwave.

[June] Acme Oyster Eating World Championship Held annually in New Orleans, Louisiana during the Oyster Festival and offers a total winning prize purse of $1,750.  The current record holder is Will Breeden with 47 dozen oysters in 10 minutes back in 2014. The competition is fierce with this one, stomach capacity and a robust appreciation for oysters are essential to being a strong competitor.

[June] Rouses Crawfish Eating World Championship- Since its inception the competition has been held annually in various locations around the Gulf Coast. This year’s competition will be held in Pensacola, FL. Record: Sonya Thomas with 6.5 pounds in 10 minutes. Featuring a total prize purse of $2,000. Rouses Markets is an independent grocer and have been around since the 1960’s. Rouses has stores in Louisiana and Alabama along the Gulf Coast.   

[June] Salvation Army National Donut Day Eating Contest Held annually in sunnySan Diego, CA every June. This year’s winner, Matt Stonie, ate 46 BakeMark donuts in 8 minutes on the deck of the USS Midway.

[June] World Championship Canteen Sandwich Eating Contest Held every year in the quaint little city of Ottumwa, IA The current record holder is Joey Chestnut with an impressive 28.5 canteen sandwiches in 10 minutes. The canteen sandwich can only be enjoyed at Canteen Lunch in the Alley which has been serving their signature loose meat sandwich since 1927.

[June] The World Hostess Donettes Eating Championship- Competitors from near and far make the pilgrimage to this annual event held in Austin, Texas each year. Taking place on National Donut Day the competition boasts a shot at $8,000 in prizes. The world record holder for most Hostess Donettes eaten is Joey Chestnut with 257 Donettes in six minutes.

[June} Hooters Wing Eating Championship This event is now held annually in Lake Tahoe, NV and features a prize purse of $10,000.  The events current record holder and last years first place winner was Geoffrey Esper, with a world record of 281 Hooters wings in 10 minutes. He earned the title as record holder after breaking the 2015 record of 241 Hooters Wings.

[July] Nathans Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Coney Island, NY. The 2018 winner basically inhaled an impressive 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes. To get a seat at this contest you can qualify as a winner at one of several other Nathans Hot Dog eating contests around the country. Qualifying events are held in Santa Cruz, Salt Lake City, Washington D.C., Queens, Norfolk, Syracuse, Lancaster PA., St. Louis, Cincinnati, Des Moines, and Valdosta GA.  

[August] The Day Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship Held annually in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles.  The contests current record holder is Joey Chestnut with 384 Gyoza in 10 minutes back in 2014.  For over 13 year’s contestants have consumed over 22,000 Gyoza at the annual event.

[August] The Snowbird Bratwurst Eating Championship Held annually at the Oktoberfest in Snowbird, UT. World record holder and 2019 champion is Geoffrey Esper with an impressive 36 Brats in 10 minutes. The Snowbird Oktoberfest was voted one of Americas 10 best Oktoberfests by Men’s Journal Magazine and attracts over 60,000 sauerkraut loving visitors every year.

[September] US National Buffalo Wing Eating Championship – A fairly new event in the eatingchampionship world and held at Coca-Cola Field inBuffalo, NY. The eating contest is held during the National Buffalo Wing Festival which has been around for 20 years and attracting over 60,000 attendees.  Last years first place status went to Geoffrey Esper, eating an impressive 281 wings in 12 minutes.

[September] The Western Days Festival World Tamale Eating Championship Held in Lewisville, TX., the event has been a yearly extravaganza since 2005.  Traditional pork tamales are used in the contest, each one weighing approximately 2.5 ounces. The current record holder is Geoffrey Esper with a world record of 95 tamales in 10 minutes.

[October] Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship- A annual event that’s over 10 yearsold. Held in Toronto, Ontario in the Yonge-Dundas Square.  Record holder, Joey Chestnut with 28 pounds of poutine in 10 minutes. For those who didn’t know already, a traditional poutine dish includes French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy.

[October] Case’s Pork Roll Eating Championship Held in the beautiful capital city of Trenton, New Jersey. The prize purse for the first place winner is $2,000. Last years event saw Joey Chestnut eat a world record setting 61.5 pork roll sandwiches in 10 minutes. For those who have never experienced a “pork roll”, it is a processed pork product made with a mix of spices, salt, sugar and preservatives. It looks a little like Canadian bacon and tastes a little like SPAM.  

[October] The World Brain Eating Championship- Touted as the world’s first zombie pub crawl in 2005, the brain eating contest hasn’t been held every year since the beginning but many years have offeres the event. Held annually inMinneapolis, MN. The reigning champion, Joey Chestnut, slurped down 54 brain tacos in 8 minutes.

[October] Pacific Park World Taco Eating Championship – Just two years old, the Taco Eating Championship is not one to miss. Held on the picturesque Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, CA. on National Taco Day, contestants devour Los Angeles street style carnitas tacos. The current record holder Joey Chestnut with 82 Carnitas tacos in 8 minutes, increasing his previous year’s intake by 20 tacos.

[November] H-E-B True Texas BBQ Challenge- Going into its third year in Austin, Texas.The newest addition to the world of sanctioned eating championships, the Texas BBQ challenge is a ten-minute showdown between human and beef brisket bbq sandwiches. The prize purse is a generous $5,000 with $2,500 going to first place.

[December] St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Eating Contest Held every December in the capital city of Indianapolis, Indiana. In its seventh year, the tradition takes place before the Big 10 Football Championship game. Described as a showcase for the majesty that is the World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail – a delicious meeting of peerless seafood and St. Elmo’s signature spicy, horseradish-forward cocktail sauce. The 2018 event saw Joey Chestnut set a new shrimp cocktail eating world record by taking in 18lbs, 9.6 ounces of the stuff in eight minutes.

Published by Jason Stroh

I am a Los Angeles based food stylist and chef

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