Competitive eaters and writers have attributed the sharp increase of food challenges in England with the recent popularity of the American television show ‘Man v. Food’. But is there any correlation between the television show and this new trend?
Adam Richman, the star of ‘Man v. Food’, spent three years taking on food challenges across the United States. A food challenge tends to be defined as an ongoing contest that is sponsored by a restaurant; participants are given a set amount of time to eat either a large quantity of food or a small amount of spicy food.
In 2010, the show made its debut in England on the Good Food Channel. An article in the Guardian said that since 2010: “slowly, by word of mouth, it has blossomed into something of a cultural touchstone for a generation.” The show was most popular in late 2011 and early 2012. UK outlets began writing about the popularity of food challenges in 2012 – shortly after restaurants like the Pride of Paddington created their first challenges.
The following Google trends chart is of the number of times people in England searched for the phrase ‘food challenge’ from 2004 to present.
Searches of the phrase ‘food challenge’ in England from 2004 to present
Before May 2010, there were no hits for the phrase ‘food challenge’. As the show ‘Man v. Food’ gained popularity, the number of searches spiked. These searches steadily increased between September 2011 to April 2012 – from 9 to 92. Since then the numbers have dipped and risen; the top hit was 100 in February 2013 and the lowest was 41 in September 2013.
Extreme Eats UK spoke with Alexi Duggins, the Editor-At-Large of Time Out London, before he took on the Terry Tucker shepherd’s pie challenge as part of his ten week eating marathon. Duggins is calling it his “food marathon,” because instead of running 26 miles, he will be scarfing down 26,000 calories.
World’s Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championship in Stockton, California, USA: Every April, contestants scarf down as much deep-fried asparagus as they can in ten minutes. The prize? $2,750. The championship attracts big names, including Joey Chestnut, the number one ranked competitive eater in the world. This year Chestnut set a new world record, eating 12 pounds and 8 3/4 ounces of deep-fried asparagus.
After weeks of work, my map of UK food challenges has finally launched! I hope you find it helpful; I believe it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of UK food contests. Here are some highlights:
Alexi Duggins, Editor-At Large of Time Out, destroys Octoberfest Pub’s Double Knuckle Challenge
On 1 May, we will be joining Time Out’s Editor-At-Large who is scarfing down ten London food challenges in the next ten weeks. Alexi Duggins is calling it his “food marathon,” because instead of running 26 miles, he will be gorging on 26,000 calories.
A Somerset pub is hosting a sausage eating contest on 4 April / Photo courtesy of Jerry Lee Que IV on Creative Commons.
Here’s a roundup of April eating competitions in the UK, courtesy of the EatFeats. The competitive eating database lists the following contests for this month. Know of any others? Tweet us @ExtremeEatsUK
An American woman who weighs 110 pounds is ranked the fourth best competitive eater in the world, according to The Daily Mail.
Miki Sudo, 28, told the Mail that she has made $25,000 from food contests. Some of the eating challenges she has completed include scarfing down 192 chicken wings in ten minutes and 17.5 pounds of chili in six minutes.
She holds three world records: the fastest time to eat 50 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (6 minutes, 15 seconds); eating four Milky Way bars with snakes wrapped around the neck (1 minute, 37 seconds); and the record for drinking a gallon of milk before a sky jump (54 seconds).
She said: ‘I love food but I never meant to pursue competitive eating. I am so glad I found it because I’m having a blast.’
When she isn’t competing, Sudo will only consume one meal a day – usually a large salad.
Here’s a video of Sudo (right) training for Nathan’s hot dog eating contest in NYC:
Randy Santel at The Red Lion in Hope as he attacks the Monster Burger challenge, credit: Randy Santel
American eating champion Randy Santel successfully completed 27 food challenges across eight European countries in only 44 days. He made stops in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and gained nearly 35 pounds, or 2.5 stone. We chatted about the new treats he tried (haggis, black pudding) and how food challenges in the UK compare to those in the States.