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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 Eating Contests Signal America's Gluttony

And now, let us turn our attention to Joey Chestnut, who recently downed 45 slices of pizza in 10 minutes to win the first Famous Famiglia World Pizza Eating Championship in New York.

I believe this calls for the traditional 21-burp salute. All, together now ...

OK, maybe not.

But still, what an achievement. Forty-five slices of pizza in 10 minutes. I’ve seen Boy Scout Troops who couldn’t match that kind of intake.

Then again, this is Joey Chestnut we’re talking about, one of the great professional eaters of our time. Pizza was no match for our Pal Joey, and neither were hot dogs (back-to-back titles in the last two Coney Island July 4 hot-dog-eating contest, with consumption of 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win this year) or hamburgers (93 Krystal hamburgers in 8 minutes in Tennessee). Or, for that matter, sandwiches, waffles, jalapeño poppers, pork ribs, Chinese dumplings, asparagus, chicken wings, kolaches and matzoh balls. He holds world records for them all.

That’s some big-time eatin’ there, pardners.

It is also, in my opinion, some big-time ridiculous.

Not to be the skunk at the picnic, or in this case pizzeria, but just for a moment, let’s take a look at the world we live in. We’re in a global economic crisis that gets scarier every day, and it seems like every country whose name ends in –stan (and a lot whose names do not) is up in arms about something. The climate is going haywire. People are shooting guns and blowing one another to smithereens, and every side is convinced that it is doing the will of the Supreme Being.

All in all, our big blue marble in space is appears to be going you-know-where in a handcart.

Meanwhile, in some corners, watching some guy gorge on pizza is considered entertainment.

Wait, it gets worse. According to what I found in the student-created library at

* In Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called "absolute poverty."

* Every year 15 million children die of hunger.

* One out of every eight children under the age of twelve in the U.S. goes to bed hungry every night.

What do you think those people – those kids – would think of a guy getting a trophy and a big pile of money for eating 45 pieces of pizza in one extremely hurried sitting? Good grief, just what he leaves behind could cause a riot.

You know, we’ve heard a lot in the last decade about how people in some other countries hate us for our freedoms. Actually, my experience is that if people in other countries – and not just the ones where we’re fighting – hate anything about us, it’s our excesses. Such as ... well, see above.

Besides which, eating contests are gross. Ever seen one? Think of John Belushi as Bluto going through the cafeteria line in “Animal House” and multiply that by about 200. These guys make Bluto look like Miss Manners. It’s not eating, really, in the bite-chew-swallow sense of the word. It’s Hoovering. And that leads us to this sorry spectacle’s biggest joke of all:

I’ve heard people who do this sort of thing say they never really notice how the food tastes.

Which just makes it all the more pointless.




© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.