The Selection Process
Before you begin learning how to prepare and what to do to be successful during a food challenge and/or eating contest, I want to stress one thing. Like many things in life, you need to start SLOW and build yourself up gradually. If you get a big ego and overconfident, you may start by doing a food challenge or contest that is bigger & harder than you can handle. You will lose and then you will get very discouraged, and then you may even quit altogether. You can go back to joining all the people that say, "OMG why would anybody do that kind of stuff?!?!" That same principle works for a diet & exercise program too. If you cut your calories drastically and workout harder than you ever have in the last 5 years, you will quickly get burnt out in a few days and go back to eating candy and fried foods, gaining more weight that you were originally. Before we move on to other sections, I want to help you with the selection process:
► The first thing to do is to honestly analyze the size of the challenge that you want to eat/drink. How big is it and what is the total weight? If this is your first food challenge, I highly recommend starting small by doing a challenge around 3.5lbs (There really aren't any challenges smaller than that). Challenges smaller than 3.5lbs are usually just cheap money-making schemes by a restaurant, and the price of the meal (never free if you win) is usually jacked-up high because they know a lot of people will win!! An example of one of those is the Big Ass Brewhouse Burger Challenge
in Indianapolis, Indiana. You need to figure out your capabilities before you go higher. The one downside to this is that most 3.5lb challenges are not free. They usually cost around $15-$20, and you get a free t-shirt for winning. This is good though, because if you can't finish a 3.5lb challenge, how are you going to finish a 5lb challenge which roughly costs between $25 & $35 if you fail, depending on the restaurant. For a good 3.5lb challenge, I recommend challenges like The Big Dawg Challenge
in downtown Greensburg, Indiana at Dawg Haus Diner
, or the Randy's Reubenator Challenge
(named after me!!) at Governor Stumpy's
in the Waldo Area of Kansas City, Missouri.
► If you are selecting your first eating contest, first you have to see what is available! If you do not know of any coming up at your favorite restaurants or bars, like I said earlier, check out eatfeats.com
. Check out your city/state to see what is coming up. Typically there are a lot more available when the weather is nice in the summer, and then there are a good amount in the fall & spring. The winter is a pretty slow time for competitive eating. Next, you have to pick the contest that sounds most appealing to you. The biggest factor is the foods you will be eating. If you hate the taste of hot dogs, why would you choose a hot dog contest for your first one?
The only reasons that you should do that is because either you don't think there will be much competition, or the prizes are really good. From that last sentence, hopefully you derived that two of the other big factors are the prizes available and how good your competition will be. Prizes are usually listed with the contest. If not, usually that is because the contest host is either waiting to hear back from other sponsors, or because the prizes are very small and not worth doing the contest, and they don't want to discourage people from signing up. When the prize list just says, "Great prizes available," that's usually not a good sign. Another factor in your decision is how much the contest costs to enter, along with where that money goes.
Most contests are free to enter because food is typically donated by a sponsor. Some contests do charge an entrance fee though which is typically inexpensive. That fee usually goes toward prizes, cost of food, or hopefully towards a great cause such as a charity organization. A lot of eating contests are setup as charity events so that they can attract more interest. You must take all of these factors into account when deciding which contest that you want to do. If the competition is going to be tough, and you know that you are just a beginner, at least make sure that you love the food or really like the organization benefitting from the contest. You don't have to win to have fun!! Just enjoy the atmosphere & competition!!