A Mashed Defeat
Hammond, Indiana’s – A Christmas Story’s “Mama’s little piggy” Mashed Potato Eating Contest
To eat more plates of mashed potatoes than the other participants in the time allotted (2mins)
To never have entered in an eating contest I knew little in how to prepare for one. So, after I registered online to participate in Hammond, Indiana’s – A Christmas Story’s “Mama’s little piggy” Mashed Potato Eating Contest I went and did a little research.
I first went to YouTube and typed in the search engine “eating contests” and came across this guy named Kobayashi. He has been a popular champion, a crowd favorite and has won many contests. I watched his method – I didn’t learn a thing. All he pretty much did was jump and down. He dunk his hot-dog (in a bun) in tall glasses of water – which seemed to be everywhere on the table and just to his left.
In this contest, however, you are not allowed to use your hands while eating the mashed potatoes. The only time you could use your hands was when you took a drink from your ONE bottle water that was placed in front of you.
I continued on YouTube and still found no help. I watched a guy attempt to eat 100 nuggets of chicken from a popular fast food restaurant in less than 20 minutes. He didn’t make it; in fact he gave up just short of fifty with time still on the clock. He did eventually eat his fiftieth nugget of chicken before the 20 minutes were up, but like I said, he already announced that he was finished – isn’t that considered his “final answer”?
Next, I went and asked all my fat friends. Everybody had their own idea and method when it came to shoving food down their throats. The only advice I later found very useful was “to lay off the water”. Getting the bottle of water opened and drinking it while the contest was soon going to be my downfall, as I will explain.
The Week before the Contest
I decided that I needed to stretch out my stomach. I drank as much fluids as I could (mainly water) and visited two all-you-can-eat restaurants. I went to one of the restaurants a day before the contest. I stayed away from mashed potatoes just so I wouldn’t make myself sick by the mere sight of them. Instead, on both visits I loaded up on vegetables covered with melted cheese and meatballs covered with brown gravy. I was even able to put down three slices of cheese cake and a bowl of ice cream. That’s all the preparedness I needed and I felt confident.
The Day of the Contest
I woke up fresh the morning of the contest at around 7:30 and thought that I would go to the contest hungry. The contest said it started at 10:30 A.M. but because of the huge turnout, my event didn’t take place until close to noon. By the time my event took place I was starving. I felt as if I was dangerous, especially behind a full plate of mashed potatoes. There’s no way I was going to lose this event.
I watched the other events, which were children. Their objective was to be the first one to finish their plate of mashed potatoes before anyone else, but in the adult event, the participants had 2 minutes to finish as many plates of mashed potatoes as they can. I watched as these kids slammed their face into their plate, some eating like they were on a mission while others looked as if they had second thoughts.
“I can do this,” I thought to myself. As I walked out of the contest area to get a small drink of water, I decided to walk and look around and see what my competition looks like. That’s when I saw him – The Russet Rampage. I thought to myself again, “Are you serious?”
This guy stood at around 6’ 2” and weighed an easy 250lbs. He had written on the back of his t-shirt “Russet Rampage” and on the front he wrote something to the fact that he destroyed potatoes, as if he did this sort of thing all the time. The more I looked at him the crazier he looked to me. I was beginning to feel intimidated.
I continued my scouting for other possible participants. I kept seeing The Russet Rampage; I think he was carrying around a lunch.
Who carries a lunch to an eating contest? Things weren’t looking good.
I couldn’t focus, especially now that The Russet Rampage kept getting in my view. That’s when my friend Rob walked up to me and said, “Did you hear? The guy who won last year’s contest is supposed to be here. They call him “The Arch Bishop” because he won by a lot.” Great, now there are two guys here with nicknames. What’s my nickname going to be when I walk out of here, “The Flabulous Flop”? Definitely, things were NOT looking good.
Five Minutes before Showtime
The last child’s event was finished; it’s time for the adult division. I wore my brown t-shirt that I got from a tavern that a couple of friends of mine own. It has the Hammond Water Tower printed on the front where the tower reads “Think Hammond”. I wore it for good luck and I thought it would be a nice touch so that after I win and the Hammond Times takes a picture of me wearing a t-shirt that shows support to my city; and advertising my friend’s tavern at the same time. I was thinking that these were hero actions. I wondered to myself if I thought I made a mistake. There were a lot of people here. There are people who came to see me stuff myself to the gills with mashed potatoes and are expecting me to win. I can’t let them down. Where’s The Archbishop? Where’s The Russet Rampage? They’ll disqualify me if I throw up. That’s in the rules.
I saw The Russet Rampage; he was sitting in the stands waiting for his name to be called like myself. I went ahead and sat in the front row. I was waiting for my name to be called. I planned on running up there like a professional wrestler and try to look like I meant serious business.
The first participants name was called, then another, then another, then another…it seemed to take forever, but then I heard it, “James Peters!” It was followed by a thunderous applause. You would have thought from the sounds of the cheer that there was a concert of people applauding, but my fan club only consisted of about ten people.
I noticed Rampage still sitting in his auditorium seat when I got up to walk on stage. His large arms were crossed and he sat very still. The glasses he wore looked thick and bulletproof, and its strong black frames made it looked as if it were from the late 1950’s. He sat between the two people who he came with. They were both also heavy set and had their arms cross. All three of them had the same stone cold stare. I think they were looking at me, I don’t know for sure because I was afraid to make eye contact with any of them longer than half a second.
I walked behind the table they had set up for the competition. The tables were covered with white tablecloths and bottles of water placed every two and a half feet. I noticed that the participants who were called before me sat at the ends; I went and sat right in the middle. While the popular morning AM radio host announced the names of the rest of the participants I looked around the auditorium for this person they call The Archbishop, but then Rampage’s real name was called.
He stood up with a little difficultly because the seat he was sitting in was a bit too small for him. Everybody turned and watched this enormous potato destroyer walk onto the stage. He stopped when he got to the top of the stairs, turned around and faced the audience and raised his arms as if he already won. The popular AM radio host noticed the writing on his t-shirt and asked what it said.
“They call me The Russet Rampage,” he slowly turned and showed the host what he had written on the back, “and I destroy potatoes!”
There was an awkward moment of silence.
After Rampage found a seat and sat down, the host continued on with roll call. He announced the name of an old friend I’ve known for the past 25+ years. She was the first girl I ever took to an organized social function. There were few seats left so she sat down directly to my left. The both of us found it funny that we ended up sitting next to each other.
Now I can’t remember what The Archbishop’s real name was, but he was called next. Everybody looked around for him but nobody stood up. His name was called one more time; still, nobody stood up.
Could it be? Is he a no-show?
He was given one last chance to announce his presence; no one. I thought that would be one less person to worry about. Then the host noticed that the table began to get a little crowded and decided to break it into two separate events; one right after the other. I decided to stay for the first event, but Rampage decided to participate in the second event. I couldn’t believe it. I had this competition in the bag – or so I thought.
“Mama’s little piggy” title goes to Crown Point, Indiana
I started strong, in fact I was the first person to finish their first plate of potatoes and I was on a roll. Participants were able to use their hands to lift their plate to their face, but that was it. I finished my second plate with little problems. It seems I was getting mashed potatoes up my nose; all over my face, and it was making it difficult to breathe while trying to chomp down very quickly with a mouth full of mashed taters!
I felt there was a slight delay in retrieving my third helping (a complaint I kept to myself until just now). When I went to crack open my bottled water, the plate of mashed potatoes arrived, put the bottle back down and I happened to glance at the guy two seats away from me (next to my friend). He was already on his third plate. I began to panic. I took in a mouthful and tried to swallow, it wouldn’t go down. I tried again – nothing. Then all of a sudden, I felt as if I was going to throw up. I tried taking in air; I couldn’t! I reached for my bottled water and thought to myself that I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen. I finally cracked the bottle open and started chugging – and chugging.
This is where a few people and I agree that that’s where I went wrong. I drank half that bottle, but I felt I had to, to clear my air passage. Time was running out, and he was on his fourth. I was halfway done with my third. I fell way behind. I took a quick look around and seen I was in an easy second. When I got my fifth helping, he was still eating his fifth plate. This told me that I was catching up.
Then, all at once, he got his sixth plate. I was halfway through my fifth, I picked up speed, I had a groove, but then…it was over.
The guy who won was from Crown Point, Indiana. I felt as if I let the city of Hammond down by letting a resident from Crown Point, Indiana (of all places) take the title away from the city who created it. I made it a point to be one of the last participants to leave the table. I didn’t even watch Rampage compete in the second event, what’s the point?
Maybe I took things a bit more serious than I should, but I didn’t come to lose. I have a tendency to take things I find important (at the time) very seriously and if I’m going to slam my face into plates of mashed potatoes repeatedly; eating as many plates as I can, you can be sure I’m going to take it seriously.
And I’m taking it seriously next time too.
Disclaimer: these views are of the author only
Copyright © James Peters, all rights reserved.