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Eating in excess

On October 2, 2010

Most holidays worldwide and especially in America bring one word to mind: overconsumption. Our very own Oktoberfest is a perfect example. Beer and bratwurst are not the only items used in excess as exhibited by a sauerkraut eating contest held downtown last weekend. Many different eating contests have been gaining in popularity the last few decades.

Competitive eating experienced a rise to fame after the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) was established in 1997 by brothers George and Richard Shea from New York. The IFOCE sanctions hundreds of events worldwide and has headquarters in Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Thailand with the central offices in New York. Some of these events are televised with "Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest" drawing over 1.6 million viewers on ESPN this past year.

Nathan's is held on Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York every Fourth of July with the 95th annual contest being celebrated earlier this year. The competitors must eat as many hot dogs with buns in 10 minutes as possible. The winner receives the much coveted mustard belt as well as a $10,000 cash prize. In the most recent contest, Joey Chesnut, an American, who currently possesses the all-time record by devouring 68 hot dogs in 2009, consumed 54. The first six challenges this decade sent the mustard belt to Japan thanks to participant Takeru Kobayashi, but Chesnut has kept the prize in America for four straight years.

Maybe hot dogs are not your thing, so you might fare better at another IFOCE sanctioned event, the Krystal Square Off. The Square Off is the world's foremost hamburger eating contest since 2004 with a cash prize of $20,000. The event takes place in Chattanooga, Tennessee and features a race to see how many Krystal hamburgers can be consumed in an eight minute time frame. Kobayashi took last year's title by consuming 93 which is an impressive feat considering it was the first time dunking foods into liquid had been deemed illegal in the Square Off. Krystal has decided take a one year hiatus from the contest and forego the 2010 competition due to an expansion of the company which resulted in limited resources and personal.

If you want to challenge yourself and see whether the professional eating world can handle you, then La Crosse has just the opportunity. Marge's on Rose features an eating dare of their own and successful completion will land you a spot on their popular Wall of Shame. To earn this prestigious honor you must consume either the breakfast scrambler titled Unk's Mess, or a massive breakfast burrito weighing in at six pounds apiece. After stomaching the entire entrée in a single visit, a picture is taken for the wall and they pick up your breakfast tab.

This past Sunday everyone at Marge's was privileged to see UW-L's very own Nik Nelson demolish Unk's Mess and ascend to local fame. The monster known as Unk's Mess contains an overly generous portions of eggs, American fries, ham, and vegetables in portions large enough to feed a party of eight comfortably. "That was the most repulsive thing I've ever

done," said Nelson of his monumental accomplishment.

      The IFOCE has thrust itself into the national spotlight and has been gaining attention from those of all walks of life.  It needs new faces to lead the way as competitors such as Joey Chesnut and Takeru Kobayashi always seem to eat up their competition. Consider giving competitive eating a try and you may find your way to fortune and fame.

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