An underlying message at Sunday’s first World Pumpkin Pie-Eating Championship: Don’t try this at home.
This spectacle awed the crowd at the 20th annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival as a panel of 14 competitors gobbled as much pie as they could stomach. In eight minutes, professional eater Matt Stonie downed 20 pounds 13 ounces of traditional pumpkin pie — declared a world record.
Stonie’s winning total contained nearly 20,000 calories including 1,307 grams of sugar — about 6-1/2 cups. The fat content — 896 grams — is equivalent to 4 cups of canola oil.
To put that sugar rush in perspective, USDA dietary guidelines suggest limiting sugar intake to 32 grams per day.
To everyday eaters, such a megadose can have severe side effects beyond an upset tummy. Force feeding your body’s system so much sugar so quickly can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness or worse.
Most of the events on the Major League Eating circuit are protein-based or savory such as hot dogs, chili, fish tacos and chicken wings. But more sweet stuff is showing up on the schedule with upcoming contests for cannoli (Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Twinkies (Nov. 8 in Mississippi).
More than 50 professional eaters compete on the MLE circuit, said “Diamond Dave” Keating, who serves as contest emcee. About 70 sanctioned competitions are held each year. New ones — such as Elk Grove’s pumpkin pie-eating championship — are constantly being added in what Keating called “the fastest growing sport in America.”
Professional eaters train themselves to consume mass quantities in short time periods. Despite their careers, they are mostly svelte athletes; Stonie weighs 120 pounds. In between contests and training sessions, they spend a lot of time working out other muscles in the gym and burning off all those excess calories. In between competitions, some pros stick to a mainly juice diet.
World champion Joey Chestnut finished second in Sunday’s contest with 19 pounds 10 ounces of pie. Chestnut, the nation’s most famous pro eater, said he felt nauseous afterward, due in part to the large sugar load.
So did other competitors. The 95-degree heat didn’t help.
“The human body can probably handle 9 or 10 pounds of pie,” Keating said, “but these guys are pros. Twenty pounds is pretty unbelievable.”
Mary Bowers, one of the MLE pros, also felt queasy after the contest. She attributed it to the combination of heat and sugar.
“It was my first time with pie — it was really hard,” said Bowers, who stopped eating at 3 pounds 12 ounces. “That’s too bad because they were really good pies.”
The contest pies were supplied by Sinful Treats Bakery of Elk Grove.
“They were awesome pies, I highly recommend,” Bowers added. “But it’s probably better if you share one with your family and take some time to eat it.”