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The United States of Competitive Eating
September 18, 2007, 2:29 am
Filed under: Competitive Eating

I don’t know if it deserves a look of concern or a dismissive chuckle, but the International Federation of Competitive Eating-sanctioned Cannoli Eating contest in Little Italy last Friday was an event filled with swift succession of emotion. Amusement at the WWF-esque costumes and monikers. Surprise that the contestants were neither enormous nor endowed with preternatural incisors. Shock, concern, and biliousness all quickly followed suit.

Although it seems to be a predominately publicity-driven enterprise at the moment, the IFOCE has introduced a point system to add legitimacy to the burgeoning sport in an attempt to widen their fan base. The Federation sanctions hundreds of eating competitions a year. Pounds of fried calf brains, butter, cannoli, anything imaginable provides contestants with a chance to rack up points. At the end of the competitive season a grand contest will be held to determine……the best eater? I cannot imagine, without gagging, the equivalent of a Speed-Eating Superbowl. I feel certain it would involve eating a large mammal or two. I can’t quite figure out who the fan base would be but apparently they are out there. At the very least, the sport is destined to be the subject of a future Christopher Guest movie. The requisite elements of passion, idiosyncrasy and absurdity are present to turn this cultural oddity into an American reality classic, joining the ranks of bounty hunting, cake making, modeling and dating.

It’s not as exotic as fried calf brains or cockroaches but below is a sampling of what I did see at the 6th Annual Cannoli Eating Contest.

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