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.