I was pretty shocked that in searching for studies of competitive eating, I was only able to find a single one. Naturally, as a scientist, I am intrigued by the concept. Nonetheless, I decided that it would be better to volunteer all day at the DC Veg Fest than to enter a vegan cupcake eating contest and likely end up feeling sorry for myself all day. As it turned out, I did both. A last minute no-show for the cupcake contest left an empty chair, so I decided to fill it. My stomach was already in knots from a very busy morning of volunteering, and I'd just had too much, but hey: there's always room for five cupcakes.
The basic premise was simple: whoever could eat 5 cupcakes the fastest (with no hands and no water) would be the victor. This was harder than I thought it would be. I basically bit the first two cupcakes in half and swallowed them without chewing, thinking this would both be faster and avoid wasting valuable saliva. Sadly, it turns out that swallowing things whole makes me want to puke really bad, so after that I had to slow down and chew lots and focus on pretending all was well with my stomach.
Shortly after this picture was taken (while I was eating the third cupcake), Doron Petersan (owner of Sticky Fingers bakery) grabbed my shoulders, started shaking the hell out of me, and telling me to chew faster. This required heavy concentration to prevent urgent vomiting:
Once she let go of me and I could calm things down a bit, I was able to take stock of my competition. I was hoping someone else would be winning so I could slow down more, but no luck. I was clearly still in the running. I decided to step up my game.
Meanwhile, the other competitors were doing the same.
You can see a wide shot of the end of the contest here (note my very clean plate and not very clean face:
Being an honest lad, I wanted to follow the rules which meant a totally clean plate, and a totally empty mouth before I could declare victory. But in the end, even though I still had a bit of chewing to do, I was declared the Regretful Cupcake King. My face pretty much says it all:
My prize? A mug and three more cupcakes, including this lovely gold-dust one:
Afterwards I still had anther 3-4 hours of volunteering to go, so it made for a rough afternoon, but perhaps it was worth it for the glory and the learning experience.