Saturday, July 4, 2009

You Can't Outeat An Elephant

I said it was going to be a treat and it apparently was. As an added bonus out there at Coney Island before this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, there was to be another contest. A contest that would pit man against beast in a competition that most of the world has thankfully never had to hear of nor experience.

And it's just as well at this point. That's because in what could one day be seen as the first definitive sign of devolution (aka, de-evolution. The de-evolving of a species. Yep, made that up.) and what will likely be seen as a huge step back for humans everywhere (but mostly in the US, as we seem to not only encourage, but willingly participate in this sort of event), three competitive eaters were out-eaten by a trio of Asian elephants.

Good Lord, when did it come to this? Actually, I don't know if I care so much because my hero, the God-like national treasure George Shea was on hand to witness and emcee the event. And just as I expected, he did not disappoint. When asked to comment on the debacle, he replied, “Am I embarrassed for my species? Of course I am. This is as dark a day for humanity as the evening of the Hindenberg crash. But this time, my heart is screaming, ‘Oh, the pachydermity! Oh, the pachydermity!" See?! How can you not LOVE that!

The three elephants were on loan the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I guess they gave them the day off from standing on one leg on those little multi-colored stools. How humane of them. The trio of Bunny, 42, Susie, 46, and Minnie, 48, weighed approximately nine tons. That stacks up fairly evenly to the weight of their three competitors which is right around 500 pounds. Sure. Totally even.

The News & Record gives us the lowdown on the three humans that mankind had selected to represent our species were a one Eric "Badlands" Booker, Tim "Gravy" Brown and Juliet Lee. Booker looks like he could have out eaten the elephants by himself. Even if you didn't know what the guy looked like, just perusing his list of records for eating obscene amounts of various foods in ridiculously short periods of time would be enough to have you wondering if maybe someone should have brought in an extra elephant just to keep up with this guy. He holds the record for eating things like:

Corned beef hash (4 pounds of hash in 1 minute and 58 seconds)

Doughnuts (49 glazed donuts in 8 minutes)

Peas (9.5 1 lb. bowls in 12 minutes)

Tim "Gravy" Brown can say that his claim to fame is eating 8.47 pounds of blueberry pie in eight-minutes. Hands free. Ugh. I don't even want to know how that's possible. I don't. Don't try to tell me!

And little (and kinda hot)Juliet Lee has proven that Gravy Brown isn't the only one that can set an eating record in only eight minutes. She is the cranberry sauce eating champion of the world. You earn a title like that one if you can eat (brace yourself) 13.23 pounds of cranberry sauce in eight minutes. And if you're not careful, pulling stunts like that will also earn you the title of "mentally ill".

But back to George Shea and the battle over which species could eat more hot dog buns in only six minutes. (That's right. Just the buns. Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun there. Then again, none of this competitive eating stuff looks like a whole lot of fun. It looks absolutely disgusting.) Our friends of at The Brooklyn Paper remind us to consider than an elephant can eat an entire loaf of bread in under TWO SECONDS. With something like that you really need to psych yourself up to believe that your species even has half a chance at winning this thing. Enter George Shea for some encouraging words before the battle began.


"The humans are hoping that their superior intellect comes into play. For instance they can dunk the rolls in water...The human gustatory gladiators have another advantage over the gentle vegetarian giants. Perhaps the elephants won’t understand the word ‘Go.’”

And at first, Shea's speculation seemed rather accurate as the elephants seemed to get off to a slow start. Can you blame them? They were probably wondering what in the hell the humans had gotten themselves into this time. All of the pondering! It slows one down! (I should know!) At the halfway mark of three minutes, Shea screamed out, "They are eating with leisurely elan! Clearly, they do not have the competitive spirit of their human betters!” Oh, they were just toying with us, George.

I'm sure you will be shocked, just shocked, to learn that in the end the elephants won. And not by a little bit, either.

Hot dog eating pachyderms: 505 hot dog buns

Devolving humans: 143 pathetic buns.


Fortunately, George Shea took the loss as only a humble organizer could and lamented, "As you know, I have had two dreams in life. One is to see two competitive eaters enter a convenience store and eat it to the ground, with one starting in the chips aisle and the other starting at the Slushies. That dream remains unfulfilled. But my other dream was to have a sanctioned eating competition between man and another species — and today that dream became a reality.”

But don't think that he's done with the elephants and all of the eating. I have the feeling that this match-up will happen again. I base that solely on Shea expressing that "“When most people see elephants, they see the majesty of nature. To me, I see an arrogant animal that needs to be taken down a notch.”

Just don't let the elephants distract you from the REAL hot dog eating contest on the 4th. Whatever you do George, and you do it SO well, don't get distracted. Now, bring on the hot dogs!

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