Last year, we came to the Nisei Week Festival in Little Tokyo to see the gyoza eating contest. And it was both hilarious and horrifying. So of course, we had to come back again this year. And this year, the number-one ranked eater in the world, Joey Chestnut was going to be there. Last year’s winner, Pat Bertoletti, and also the number-two ranked eater was also there.
There was lots of fanfare before the actual contest started. As they did last year, they had one seat in the contest up for auction to benefit the Nisei Week Festival. This time, there was fierce competition for it, and the winner paid $400 to sit in the last seat. He said he was from Australia, and he’d done some eating contests there, so he wanted to try this one.
When the contest started, it was quite a spectacle. Bulging cheeks, chomping jaws, and everyone doing the little body wiggle that apparently helps the food to pack down better into their stomachs. Looking at their faces, it’s pretty plain that they’re doing something difficult and painful. In many ways, athletics are all about pushing the limits of the human body, and I suppose stuffing massive quantities of food into it is just another limit to be pushed.
This time, nobody suffered a ‘reversal of fortune‘. When time was called, everyone stood up and finished swallowing the last of what they’d stuffed in their mouths. And then the judges counted plates and tabulated the results. In the end, Joey Chestnut had won and set a new record with 264 gyoza in ten minutes.
As I said, it was both hilarious and horrifying. And that makes it a must-see in my book.