We were today approached by a young budding journalist to answer a few questions about competitive eating. We thought we’d share with you the questions and our responses!
What do you think are the main motivations for competitive eating?
For most eaters, it’s the desire for them to compete and succeed in something that they enjoy doing.
What do the competitors get out of it?
In some cases, prize money might be the motivation, or perhaps a free meal. But at a very basic level, I believe it’s the knowledge that they’ve competed and achieved something that their competitors couldn’t. It’s a natural instinct to be the best at whatever it is you’re attempting. This is just another avenue for that.
What do you think prompted the massive surge in competitive eating competitions? Is it to do with value? People more hungry? Popularity of the show Man v Food ?
Each of these have contributed somewhat to the rise in both media attention and interest in the sport. Food is life. Most people enjoy eating, and for most people being a “fast eater” was probably something their mothers told them not to do. “Slow down, it’s not a race!”, well, not any more! And as the media pays more attention to this fast growing sport, I believe more people will be drawn to it.
The associated health risks of eating enormous portions of fried food (eg Essen’s 3.5kg schnitzel challenge) can be quite dangerous. Do you think the competitors care or consider the risks?
I think this, as with anything in life needs to be balanced and done in moderation. A large number of US competitive eaters are extremely fit, and take their health very seriously. Just because they can eat these types and volumes of foods quickly, doesn’t mean they would do so at every meal opportunity. Each individual is in charge of their own destiny. Some choose to live a healthy lifestyle, some do not, regardless of whether they’re a competitive eater or not.
What kind of people usually compete in eating contests? Is it usually quite large people?
Not at all. Successful competitive eaters come in all shapes and sizes. I always say, never underestimate a skinny competitive eater!
Are eating contests more popular to participate in for men or women and why do you think this is?
Men seem to be drawn to the sport more than women. Perhaps it’s their desire to compete against fellow man. Maybe there’s some sort of animal instinct drawn from prehistoric times to feast. Or it could just be the beer talking.
Why do you think people like to watch and read about competitive eaters?
Because it’s a unique sport that everyone can relate to. Not everyone can run a marathon, or throw a discus, but everyone can eat. I often hear spectators say things like “oh I could have beaten them easy!”. It’s not until they actually try to do it themselves that they then realise it’s actually quite difficult to eat large amounts of food very quickly.
What do you think about the food wastage and how would you respond to people who say “There are people starving in Africa and these people are just stuffing their faces for the sake of it”
I have yet to see a competition where food is “wasted”. Food is energy. Competitors may not eat in the lead up to a competition, and not eat again for some time afterwards. It’s merely a change in someone’s consumption schedule. The competitive eating community frowns on those who might “reverse” food after a competition. It’s not what the sport is about, and not the image the sport wishes to portray.