Southern Stories
Aug 15/13

Eating Competitions That Will Make You Swoon Posted by: Dan | 0 Comments

Every red-blooded, plate-cleaning, raised-on-home-cooking Southerner — or American, for that matter — has a comfort food, from the classic grandma’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes to the authentic greasy boudin balls you had to leave Louisiana to get away from in order to save your cholesterol. When we close our eyes and listen closely to our hearts, er, stomachs, we can conjure up mouthwatering memories of that special snack, the one we typically have to hide from ourselves else we lose self control and gorge ourselves to the point of Violet Beauregard portliness.

However, for a few (brave?) souls, control is all about fitting the most of one food item into their stomachs as humanly possible. I’m talking about competitive eaters, or “gurgitators,” as they’re often referred to in glutton jargon. More often than not, eating competitions take a beloved comfort food, something we swore could solitarily sustain us for the rest of our days, and turn it into a gut-wrenching display of indulgence. Sometimes they’re tests of who can keep down a fearsome foodstuff. Without exception, they’re spectacles.

Here, we pay homage to the most delicious, bizarre and cringe-worthy eating competitions in the South. Dig in, y’all.

Annual Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich Eating Contest
Biloxi, MS – TBA
In honor of The King’s birthday, Isle Casino Hotel lets contestants see how many peanut butter and banana sandwiches they can scarf down before the peanut butter sticks their mouths shut and they’re forced to live out the rest of their short lives on the peanut butter and banana contents of their stomachs. I’m just kidding.

Vidalia Onion Festival
Vidalia, Ga. — April 20, 2014
You’re going to need a breath mint after competing in this festival’s World Famous Onion Eating Contest. Don’t be alarmed if your friends keep a safe distance from you afterwards.

World Grits Eating Championship
Bossier City, La. – Sept. 13
They’re ooey. They’re gooey. And those grits are gonna get gobbled up by two dudes competing for an obscene amount of money — $10,000 — at Harrah’s Casino next month. Just try to hang onto your lunch while this mess goes down.

World Cheese Dip Championship
Little Rock, AR — Oct. 20
Speaking of mess, competitors in this cook-off’s cheese dip eating competition have been known to forgo the chips and dive headfirst into the bowl.

Alabama Chicken & Egg Festival
Moulton, AL – April 11-13, 2014
Cholesterol is the last thing on competitors’ minds as they wolf down hard-boiled eggs at this festival. I hope they at least get salt and pepper with those eggs. It sounds rough.

Florida Key Lime Pie Festival
Cocoa, FL – Jan. 25, 2014
Get out of my way, world. There is a key lime pie festival where you can eat all the key lime pie you can stuff into your mouth. And it’s near the beach. I repeat: GET OUT OF MY WAY.

Spoonbread Festival
Berea, KY – Sept. 20-23, 2013
Spoonbread … it sounds sweet and succulent, like monkey bread. Actually, it’s more like cornmeal bread pudding, which is really appetizing to some people. Some of these people eat vast quantities of it at this festival, which we don’t really want to imagine.

Fun Fun Fun Fest
Austin, TX – Nov. 8 – 10
In this hippest of hipster fests that I’m just dissing right now because I can’t afford to go, there will be a veggie dog eating contest. I can hear you hissing and booing and cursing at the thought of forsaking meat like that.

Spinach Festival
Alma, AR – TBA
For some reason, Alma really loves spinach. And Popeye the Sailor Man. Which is why every year they try to see who can eat the most spinach and get big and strong like him.

Ayden Collard Festival
Ayden, NC – Sept. 5-8
If I were going to lose my mind and eat one food item to the point of almost exploding, I’d probably pick some sort of leaf. I’d at least get all my vitamins for the rest of the year in one sitting. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. There’s a collard eating contest right around the corner…

Annual World Catfish Festival
Belzoni, MS – April 5, 2014
I’m a little shocked that the record set for the catfish eating contest at this festival is only 2.02 lbs. Then again, 2.02 lbs. of presumably fried fish in your stomach probably feels pretty agonizing. Agonizing, but delicious.

Bluffton Boilers Boiled Peanut Eating Contest
Bluffton, SC – Aug. 24, 2013
Apparently there are enough boiled peanut fans in this country to constitute throwing a festival and an eating contest in honor of the legume. Those people are nuts about nuts (badum tsssssh!).

San Antonio Highland Games
San Antonio, TX – April 5 – 6, 2014
In Texas’ style of doing it big, they take the gross-out crown with the haggis eating contest at this Scottish festival. And don’t’ try to argue with me that haggis, in its nature of being minced organs stuffed into a stomach, is not disgusting.

Honorable Mention: Armour Vienna Sausage Eating Contest (2005)
It happened one time at a racetrack in South Carolina, and a woman who called herself “The Black Widow” ate 8.31 pounds of Vienna sausages. And it never happened again. And we will never speak of this again.

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Climbing Blog


Willa Dean prays that no one ever hosts a corn nugget eating competition, because she would undoubtedly go there and win that and there would be no stopping her or the ensuing embarrassment that comes with owning a corn nugget eating trophy. E-mail her at



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