Extreme eating – reality, history and glory

26 Jan
Adam Richman

A light snack for Adam Richman

Have you seen Man Versus Food on the Good Food Channel?

Whether you should or not probably depends on a) your love or otherwise of enormous portions of American food b) any moral objections to gratuitous over-eating.

If you haven’t seen the programme (and personally I love it) it involves self-confused food obsessive Adam Richman touring the USA attempting to take on a variety of extreme eating challenges. You know the thing. Eat the Gut-Buster Mega Hotdog and Whole Chicken Combo and get the meal for free…and your photo on the wall of the restaurant.

I defy you to watch and not salivate. Unless you are vegetarian.

Actually, the first 15 minutes of each episode are cause for salivation. Once Adam starts the eating challenge it becomes more of an endurance test for the viewer. God knows what it’s doing for Adam.

Perhaps I love this programme because I have…well….I don’t want to boast….I have a bit of form in this area.

Bristol circa 1991. Happy times. University life, a fresh grant in my back pocket, keen to save as much money for beer as possible. Bring on the Pizza Hut Challenge. 10 hungry students, descending upon the eponymous restaurant every Tuesday evening for the all-you-can eat buffet. This was a red rag to a bull.

The rules were simple. Eat as many slices of pizza as you could. The more hardcore would follow up by matching this number with pints, but this resulted in some severe cases of alcohol poisoning and was quickly ruled out by the BPEAB (British Pizza Eating Association of Britain).

To add some subtlety a ‘slice was a slice’. This was not as easy to manipulate to your advantage as it might sound. The staff of Pizza Hut were, strangely, not impressed with such wanton abuse of a simple marketing ploy and resorted to serving the all-you-can-eat pizza rather than having a buffet. It made no odds, we just took longer to eat.

My record? 14 slices. I was so proud. The all time record – 22 slices. An outrageous display of gluttony that will live long in the memory of all concerned. Believe it or not it was even acheived under ‘pints as well’ rules. The carpet of the Bristol Student Union never knew what hit it.

These days, my extreme eating days are over (although I’m not a small portions man in the main) but I still love a good eating contest. Fortunately we are blessed with the World Watercress Eating Championship on our doorstep.

World Watercress Eating Championship

World Watercress Eating Championship - 2011

It takes place annually at the Alresford Watercress Festival. If you have ever wondered how many bags of watercress it takes to make a man throw up, the answer is ‘less than one’.

Technially speaking, as I write this post, I’m on a diet. I am living out my eating needs through the medium of prose instead. I’d better not go near a McDonalds in the next few days. I can feel a supersize coming on…


One Response to “Extreme eating – reality, history and glory”


  1. New Orleans – a humid Harvester « lazy gastronome - June 20, 2012

    […] this monster slice of pie. Every bite was great, but the sheer volume created an ordeal. This was Man Versus Food, UK […]

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