Growing up, you had to be forced to eat certain foods. Otherwise your parents would hand down the dreaded “no dessert” punishment. These foods — broccoli, fish, liver and cottage cheese, among others — still make many people’s skin crawl and stomach turn just at the sheer mention.
But those are all just child’s play compared to what the world’s best competitive eaters will eat for sport (and prizes). Here are some eating competitions over the years that even the most adventurous among us might avoid.
At the Guinness Book of World Records‘ “World’s Largest Gathering of Zombies” in Minneapolis, Minnesota, local eatery AZ Canteen served up brain tacos to Major League Eating competitors. At the 2013 event, the league’s then top competitive eater, Joey Chestnut, feasted on 54 brain tacos. Up-and-comer Matt Stonie stomached 53.5 of them, still three times as many as the third-place finisher.
There might not be enough air fresheners in Chicago’s Korea Town after its annual kimchi-eating competition. This chowdown of spicy, fermented cabbage takes place during the hottest month of the year in a city known for its muggy, miserable summers. It’s hard to imagine that any person has the strength and willpower to compete in — let alone win — this eating event. But Miki Sudo did, scarfing down 8.5 pounds in six minutes.
It would take a lot of money to persuade me to eat even a single pig’s foot or knuckle. But everyone has a price, and plenty of people would eat more for less. In 2007, competitors gathered in East Rutherford, New Jersey to do just that. And to be fair, these pigs’ feet and knuckles were spritzed with lemon. Arturo Rios Jr. won the event, edging out Eric Denmark and Crazy Legs Conti. The event was the first of this type.
Competitive eating and NASCAR joined athletic forces to host this canned sausage challenge. The event took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, a region known for its love of Armour Vienna Sausages. MLE’s Black Widow Sonya Thomas came out on top and set the record, consuming 8.3 pounds in 10 minutes.
Unless your gastrointestinal tract is lined with steel, this eating competition would be a real pain to participate in. Competitive eater Patrick Bertoletti holds the current record for pickled jalapeño consumption, taking down 275 of the spicy peppers in eight minutes. This fiery feast takes places in San Antonio, Texas and is hosted by Mexican food manufacturer La Costeña.
Alli Sands is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.