Turns out I know the Top Eater in Cincinnati.
Let me back up. Turns out there is such a thing as the Top Eater in Cincinnati. And he’s one of my co-workers.
We found out when Sean Mulcahey, the eater in question, came back from lunch a week or two ago with a statue the size of small horse. He had just stepped out to eat 10 cheese coneys in 3 minutes. Who does that? Well, Sean.
I found this completely fascinating. Learning about the competitive eating scene was almost, but not quite, as startling as learning about American gypsy culture (via the TV show My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding) but with fewer Swarovski crystals. It’s a culture something about which I knew absolutely nothing so I grilled (maybe I should have sauteed him?) Sean (after giving him some popcorn to get the taste of cheese coney out of his mouth).
Are you familiar with MLE? Yes, we have another sports (sports?) acronym in our world. Major League Eating represents the top eaters in the country. These are the folks who snort down 7 billion hot dogs in 12 seconds. And competitions go so much farther than Nathan’s Hot Dogs. There are tater tot eating competitions, oyster eating competitions, grilled cheese eating competitions, pie eating contests, peeps eating competitions….you get the point. If it can be digested, it can be an eating competition.
Many of us have been known to pack away an entire package of Oreos or a gallon (or two) of ice cream in one sitting. We thought we were pros, but it turns out we are the rankest of amateurs.
Professional eating is about huge volume in zero time. Think vacuum cleaner of eating. This sort of eating makes Booker look like a slow, dainty eater. Get the point?
Back in the olden days, eating competitions were held at county fairs and other friendly local events. You went, you ate, end of story. Today, Major League Eating (also known at the International Federation of Competitive Eaters) wants to control the competitive eating world. You have to sign their contract to compete in a lot of the events. Which has caused an uproar (or possibly an upchuck) in some circles. But these days there is real money to be made at some of these events. Or free tea for a year. Or a trophy the size of a small horse.
Since Sean is the only Competitive Eater I know (or at least I think he is), I can’t attest to the personalities of most people who participate in eating competitions. I can say that we think Sean is pretty terrific. Also funny. And that’s not just because he has to help me with a major project today.