I scream, you scream, but at the Magnifying Credit Union World Ice Cream Eating Championship, how do you avoid screaming with brain freeze? (Answer below). As a competitive eater, I do a ton of media -- perhaps you've seen me on TV or heard me on the radio? I hold a few world records, but I am best known for plugging the sponsor's name incessantly. On the New England Sports Channel, I once said, "The Verizon Voice Wing Battle of the Wings Chicken Wings" 87 times in a three minute spot. I ate three pounds of watermelon and plugged MLE: The Game in one minute, forty-seven seconds with Kathy Lee and Hoda (When my video game avatar threw up in glorious Nintendo color, they were mortified). When a great sponsor name comes along, like the Magnifying Credit Union, in conjunction with an ice cream contest, well, I just can't help myself. National and local media -- consider yourself warned.
What do the names John Daly, David Wells, Dennis Rodman, and Crazy Legs Conti have in common? All legends in their sports until they began to rely on their outsized personalities in lieu of talent and became known as buffoons, has-beens, and former greats. The night before an eating contest I should not be at Showgirls in Plant City downing seven Coors lights in twenty minutes to beat the happy hour special. I shouldn't be at Louie Mack's steakhouse ordering both the porterhouse and rib eye along with a few Manhattans and a few smoky whiskeys. The harsh Florida sun would be my hangover's wake up call and perhaps my career's death knell. In the morning, I nearly had a, "reversal of fortune," and this was hours before the contest. What had become of the once great oyster king of 2002 and when did he start to refer to himself in the third person? Was it time to hang up the esophagus? I scream indeed.
Lakeland, Florida was the scene of this first ever ice cream festival and when top ranked Major League Eaters show up to consume record numbers of partially melted vanilla pints, 25,000 people show up to see if they can lick the leftovers. Baskin Robbins and Hershey's jostled for tent space along with local favorite, Working Cow Ice Cream. Despite exotic flavors such as, "Smurf", "Butterscotch Explosion", and "Garbage Can," the contest would feature the mundane vanilla, but make no mistake; ice cream is an unforgiving discipline.
I had eaten ice cream in competition once before -- at the venerable Water Club in NYC, Major League Eating held an ice cream eating contest open only to the press. As Pat "Deepdish" Bertoletti, Tim "Eater X" Janus, and I battled, no cheering was heard. It was an odd contest and with only the combination of slurping sounds and camera shutters, I suppose it was a lot like filming pornography. In porn, rarely does one freeze themselves from the inside out. Eater X had the best gimmick and used a silver marathon heat blanket to avoid hypothermia post contest.
Brainfreeze, or spenopalatine ganglioneuralgia if you are playing scrabble or trying to impress the ladies, can be avoided. If you hold the spoon upside down and don't let it touch the roof of the mouth -- no brainfreeze. In a six minute all you can wolf down, it is pretty much a sure bet that you will be chilling your mind at some point. What do you do? Power through, drink warm water, or realize that Joey "Jaws" Chestnut to your right has eaten three pints in one minute and you should have studied harder in school. However, the darker side to competitive eating can also help. The last time we ate ice cream, I covered my gums in ambasol, an oral painkiller. However, due to the cold and hot combo, my gums peeled for a week. I am heading to Nola for the Rouse's Crawfish Eating Championship next weekend and no way could my mouth stand the spicy boil with any cuts. No ambasol in Polk County for me. One unnamed eater used Percocet with caffeine pills. Drug testing has yet to come to pro-eating, but rubbing the clear or Winstrol V on your stomach, won't help anyway.
Six minutes later and The Joker Marchant Stadium was awash in vanilla ice cream run-off. It was like a milkshake river parted the competitors. My goatee probably had a few dripping ounces in it as the empty pint containers were counted. Joey edged out Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan (the Justin Beiber of our sport) with 1.81 gallons. The Rabbit's 11.5 pints were just a Sundae away from the win. I placed 5th with just under a gallon. Perhaps my night before activities are starting to catch up to me although at the moment I felt a reversal coming up the esophagus, I Louie Armstrong it, and swallowed. I was not going to lose that $200. Next weekend is New Orleans, a city with a special place in both my heart and stomach. Despite my penchant to eat and drink amazing amounts in that city, I will refocus my energies from bacchanalia to athletic achievement. The Rouse's World Crawfish Eating Contest awaits and I intend to be Master of the Mudbug and return to gustatory glory and if I win any prize money, what better place to put in than in a Magnifying Credit Union money market checking account.
Crazy Legs Conti can be reached in cyberspace at www.crazylegsconti.com and as close to reality as he comes, at Coleman's Bar and Grill in NYC.
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