What’s it like to be one of the world’s top-ranked competitive eaters? Probably pretty damn fulfilling. Meredith Boxberger, the “Deep Fried Diva,” tops the list in Canada and cracks Major League Eating‘s international top 20. As the Barrie, Ontario native, who tips the scale at 130 pounds, puts it, “I love getting a kick out of taking down these guys who are 200 pounds. People didn’t know how much I could eat when I started.”
They know how much she can eat now. And it’s a lot.
Tailgate Fan spoke with Boxberger recently regarding her training techniques and her favorite foods to eat in competitions.
Tailgate Fan: OK, I have to ask: How did you come up with your nickname of “Deep Fried Diva”?
Meredith Boxberger: I came up with it on my own. I noticed most people had their eating names, so I figured out what would be unique. I do well with deep-fried food.
TGF: In addition to competitive eating, what are your other hobbies and interests?
MB: I am pretty active. I love skiing and biking. I am busy with school, but I do love traveling around the country and trying out new restaurants. I try out new challenges, like the Krispy Kreme Challenge [in Raleigh, North Carolina]. I enjoy life and try to do different things.
TGF: What drew you to competitive eating?
MB: When I owned a Little Caesars franchise, I was working so many hours, so I thought I should create a life list and do something fun. I saw there was a pizza-eating contest, so I thought it would be perfect to try. It was not a little competition. I got myself into a big one. I ate five and one quarter pizzas in 10 minutes. I had a big appetite, but I had no idea I’d eat that much. That’s how it started. I checked off the life list, and I discovered there was this whole competitive eating lifestyle. Three-and-a-half years later, I’m moving up in the rankings.
TGF: How do you prepare for upcoming competitions?
MB: I don’t train with food at all. What I do is watch YouTube videos of previous competitions and watch people’s techniques. Now that I have enough tape of myself, I see when I slow down. I know where I need to be at each minute of the competition. You can’t eat that much food on a consistent basis and be healthy. I also try to stay in good physical shape. I run and bike, too. I am a competitive person, so I have a number that I want to shoot for at the next competition.
TGF: What’s your favorite food to eat in a competition?
MB: My favorite food would have to be pizza. It’s the first competition I did. It’s an easy competition. I have also done the poutine competition.
TGF: I’ve noticed some competitors use headphones when eating at an event. Do you have any special techniques or items you use?
MB: I do listen to music, and I have a lucky Canadian headband that I wear. I listen to music that I run to. I don’t listen to it at too high of a level because I can’t hear the timing of the competition.
TGF: Is there any food you won’t eat in a competition?
MB: I try to stay away from seafood, and I also don’t eat olives. I can’t handle olives. Everything else is fair game.
TGF: In the 2014 world-famous Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest, you placed fifth with 18 hot dogs. Do you plan to return this year?
MB: I do. I’ll be at Nathan’s again this year as long as I qualify. I would love to hit 30 hot dogs. I am not sure I can hit it but it’s a high enough goal.
TGF: I saw on your YouTube channel that you competed in the Kookamonga Burger Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. I noticed you went for the burger and toppings first, then ate the hamburger buns. Do you have a certain technique for different types of food? Do you research and practice before an event?
MB: I do, and I look online and see if anyone else has done it before but, generally, I have a feel for how to go about it. It’s easier to eat a bun in the end than a cold hamburger. The worst thing is to go in without any plan, and to go back and forth. An hour goes by incredibly fast when you eat. In a lot of food challenges it’s best not to leave anything gross for the end.
TGF: Have you seen the sport expand?
MB: The people involved are athletic-looking and it is becoming popular with people who are in athletics. That pushes the limits of the sport, and you see people push themselves.