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Advice from a Jewish Eating Champion

Ahead of a hamantaschen eating contest, Don “Moses” Lerman dished

Adam Chandler
February 22, 2013
Mayor Rudy Giuliani With Don "Moses" Lerman at the Matzoh Ball Championship.(Don Lerman)

Mayor Rudy Giuliani With Don “Moses” Lerman at the Matzoh Ball Championship.(Don Lerman)

On Sunday afternoon, I will embark on my first formal foray into competitive eating. By the grace of God and gluttony, I will be one of the non-professional entrants in the 2nd Annual EL AL Israel Airlines Hamantaschen Eating Championship.

It has long been a dream of mine to win free round-trip airfare to Israel and to be in a country with national healthcare in case I begin to notice symptoms of early onset diabetes. With any luck, Sunday’s event will hasten both!

To prepare for this occasion, I enlisted the advice of Don “Moses” Lerman, who is frequently referenced as a pioneer in the field of competitive eating. Lerman, who is now retired, once ate seven quarter-pound sticks of salted butter in five minutes and housed six pounds of baked beans in less than two minutes. Some of his other accolades include:

• A six-time finalist in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (22.25 hot dogs in 12 minutes)
• A record-breaking 12.25 matzoh balls eaten in two minutes and 25 seconds at Ben’s Kosher Deli Matzoh Ball Contest
• Pioneering the water technique
• World records set in bologna, butter, and jalapenos eaten

For an added bonus, here is video of Lerman breaking the world bologna-eating record. (2.76 pounds in six minutes)

*About 2:30 in, he burps and then goes into overdrive*

So I asked Lerman what I should do to prepare for my hamantaschen binge and here’s what the sensei of scarf suggested:

1. Eat as much as I can the day before to expand my stomach
2. Drink one gallon of water, replacing a quart with Gatorade to maintain electrolytes
3. Bring some warm water in a thermos to soften the hamantaschen
4. Don’t focus on the other eaters

Last year’s non-professional winner ate fourteen hamantaschen in five minutes, so that’s the yardstick. I am now drinking water and visualizing myself eating 15 hamantaschen.

I will update everyone on Monday after I bring home the crown.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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