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Attack of the giant oysters

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted June 04, 2013
adrian the rabbit morgan and aaron a-train osthoff
Acme oyster overlords: The Rabbit (left) and A-Train (right) at a previous encounter. © Adrian Morgan

Black Widow triumphs in oysters while Jaws wins in pastrami; Molly Schuyler and Pablo Martinez through to Nathan's.

Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas, intergalactically recognised as the Rake & Herald's all-time favourite alimentary athlete, has frenetically forked her way to glory and a top prize of $1,000 (£656) at the 10th Acme Oyster Eating World Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana by engorging 24 dozen (288) oysters-on-the-half-shell in 8 minutes, her sixth gold in the event since its 2002 inception.

Meanwhile, Aaron 'A-Train' Osthoff slavered down 21 dozen bivalves to bag silver and $500 ahead of third-placed local boy Adrian 'the Rabbit' Morgan, who stuffed his pockets with $250 after first stuffing his face with 18 dozen dead denizens of the deep.

However, while both the names and the amounts on the winners' cheques on Sunday were identical to those awarded in 2012, there was one major difference between this year's craw-cramming and that of 12 months ago: the gut counts were down.

After all, last year the Black Widow bolted back a whopping 47 dozen shell-bearing filter feeders to set what we're pretty darn sure was a new interdimensional record and in so doing trumping A-Train's 39 and the Rabbit's 37.

So what happened this year?

Were the eaters simply slower or, more likely, was the stage invaded by a gang of rabid otters hell-bent on running amok in order to put the gurgitators off their collective stride and so ensure the fulfilment of some dastardly plot hatched by a James Bond-type super villain living inside a volcano?

A good guess, but no.

"The oysters were HUGE so it greatly contributed to the lower numbers this year," A-Train exclusively spills the beans to the Rake & Herald via that there new fangled FaceBook thing.

"I was very happy with my performance."

"This is my favourite contest of the year and New Orleans is my favourite city in the world to visit."

Echoing these sentiments via an equally exclusive facebookification with the Rake & Herald, the Rabbit states: "The oysters were massive this year [and so] the numbers were obviously a lot lower."

At this point, however, opinions diverge.

"I'm just glad it's over," he continues.

"Oysters are not my favourite."

"I'm looking forward to the next contest much more – hot dogs in Hotlanta."

And to that we say good luck.

But what about MLE newblood Corey 'Da Bayou Boy' Fanguy, who finished fourth?

"I did my best," he tells the Rake & Herald in a similarly exclusive converfacebookation.

"The oysters were huge but I managed to put down 11 dozen of them."

Furthermore, it wasn't just the fearlessly fork-tastic food fighters who fathomed that Sunday's shellfish were flawlessly impersonating Godzilla on the bloat.

"This year's Acme Oyster molluscs [have been] described separately as 'huge', 'big' and 'hugely big'," a pre-contest MLE tweeted to the world and not just us.

"Early growing season, y'all."

"Them's were big oysters."

But is this even possible?

Can oysters really grow so large as to impinge tummy tallies by around 50% across the board or is that just the stuff of legend?

We asked a tramp being sick in a bin.

"Oh yeah, oysters can be huge," he told us as he wiped puke off his weather-beaten face with a crisp packet.

"I saw one climbing a telegraph pole once."

"It was as big as a man and then some."

"Mind you, it could've been a cat."

"They all look the same to me."

katz pastrami trophy
Ain't she a beauty? The Katz golden sandwich. © MLE

And on the subject of cats, well Katz anyway, Sunday also saw a host of top MLE eaters making a beeline to Katz's Delicatessen in Noi Yoik's Lower East Side to celebrate this apparently iconic eatery's 125th anniversary.

Happy birthday, by the way.

However, theses digestional daredevils weren't there for the champagne and vol-au-vents.

Oh no siree, Bob.

They were there for one thing and one thing only: to stuff their gobs with as many pastrami sandwiches as humanly possible in a 10-minute feeding frenzy of epic proportions.

And who could blame them?

"Key to Katz's universal success is its peerless, hand-sliced pastrami, a pastrami so divine that it has saved the souls of countless thousands who, before savouring its wonder, had given up on ever finding happiness," MLE explains on its beautifully worded website.

"Indeed, to bite into a Katz's pastrami sandwich is to know that life is worth living."

In which case, Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut must be over the flippin' moon right now because when the seconds had slipped away and the scarfing was all but a memory it was he and he alone who stood all-conquering like Alexander the Great at the shores of the Caspian but, of course, with the added bonus of having just shoved 25 of these euphoria-inducing bread-and-meat jobbies into the deepest recesses of his superhuman stomach.

And like Alexander before him, so it was that he was duly crowned the undisputed champion of the world, the Katz's Delicatessen World Pastrami Eating Champion of the World, a title that brought with it treasure to the tune of $3,750 as well as a golden sarnie surmounted on some wood to boot.

Not bad, eh?

Anyway, fellow San Jose-based scarfing supremo Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie came second to pocket $1,900 for tucking away 21 of the things, while Bob 'Notorious B.O.B.' Shoudt, who is most definitely not an off-stage vegetarian, placed third with 18.5 to take home $1,100.

At the same time, world belching ace Tim 'Eater X' Janus grabbed half a grand for chobbling his way through 16, with Marcos 'the Monster' Owens signalling his return to the MLE rankings with a fifth-placed 14 that netted him $250.

"It was cool doing a contest close to home," the New Jersey-based Monster exclusively facebookifies the Rake & Herald.

"I'm from NY so going back always feels good."

"I felt like I did OK."

"[I] should have pushed a bit harder but only came two away from Tim."

"As far as the rankings go, it doesn't really matter."

"Ranking or no ranking, I'm shy [and] not really a people person, so I prefer people not knowing who I am."

"Plus, I don't have to speak to anyone post contest, which works for me."

"I'm not a showman."

"I don't really play to the crowd."

"I prefer to show up, eat, put down a decent [number] then hang for a few and go home."

"Over all, it was a good field and the sandwiches were delicious."

"That always helps, when the food is good."

Pablo Martinez and Molly Schuyler
Off to Coney: Pablo Martinez and Molly Schuyler. © Molly Schuyler

And the good food didn't stop there, for over in St Paul, Minnesota, Sunday also saw Molly Schuyler becoming only the third woman ever to win a Nathan's heat outright and thus follow in the footsteps of the Black Widow (Atlantic City, May 2011) and Miki Sudo (Las Vegas, April 2013).

What's more, according to the excellent Eat Feats, by shoving 31 hot dogs and buns (HDBs) down her trap in 10 minutes, she also became just the fourth woman in the contest's history to surpass 30 in a qualifier1.

So how does she feel about this doubly historic triumph?

"[The] number sucked!" she exclusively facebookularises the Rake & Herald, qualifying this statement with the abbreviation "LMAO", which while probably meaning Laughing My Ass Off could, AcronymFinder informs us, also stand for Land Mail Art Objects, whatever they are.


Quite a toughie but probably the former.

Either way, she continues: "It was fun."

"[The] dogs were cold and I felt under the weather."

"Good times all in all."

"Amazing friends were the best part of all."

Fair play, ma'am, and fair play too to Pablo Martinez, who, after finishing fourth in the aforementioned Las Vegas knockout, took silver to claim his seat at the Men's Final with 29 HDBs in his belly at the bell.

"I feel amazing right now," he also exclusively facebookates the Rake & Herald.

"I'm so excited and honoured to be going to Coney Island."

"I felt a lot more confident this time compared to Vegas because I had more time to practice my technique."

"There was tough competition there for sure."

"Eric 'Badlands' Booker and Steve Hendry were right on my tail the whole time."

"It's an honour to compete with such great talent."

"I look forward to increasing my numbers by July 4 and competing with the world's best!"

But alas, from the world's best we must now turn to the world's worst.

That's right, for I am now contractually obliged to force upon you the mindless meanderings of Rake & Herald fashion editor, London cabbie, clueless half-wit and self-appointed competitive eating pundit Kok 'I'm Such a Tosser It Hurts' Wang.

Fortunately for me, though, I don't actually have to put up with his physical presence anymore because Bobby Splithead, as we've started calling him ever since he smashed his skull open, has literally disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Last seen levitating out the window after being possessed by the disembodied spirit of a two-foot-tall dead hitman, Kok is now reduced to communicating with our lower vibrational plane of existence via rappings, mysterious footfalls and the occasional misspelt scrawl in spectral blood across the walls and ceiling.

So Kok, if you can hear me, what have you got to say for yourself, you piece of putrid nob cheese?

Less of the lip, Sand, you tu'penny slag.

I'm standin' right behind you, ain't I?

[Shit! I didn't see you come in. How long have you been there and, come to think of it, where exactly have you been?]

You don't wanna know, girl.

It was bloody 'orrible.

All these lost souls wailing in misery, the spirit-crushing tedium and monotony of their pitiful plight only broken by the foulest forms of indignity and debasement at the hands of demonic monsters beyond all human imagination.

[You were in Hell?]

Nah, Heathrow.

I had to drop off a punter.

Anyway, good to see the Black Widow on top form again.

However, the thing that's been most on my mind – and no disrespect meant to any of the eaters in either the Big Apple or the Big Easy – is that Nathan's qualifier in St Paul, and Molly Schuyler's victory in particular.

Thirty-one 'ot dogs and buns on début?

That's some form if you ask me and as a result I can't help thinking that this year's Women's Final is most definitely going to be a right royal belter.

Bloody Nora, if Molly had done that at Coney last year, she'd've placed a close third behind 'the Lovely' Juliet Lee, so suddenly out of nowhere you've now got these two newbies in the form of Molly and Miki Sudo – M and M I call 'em – who are clearly in line for a shot on goal.

Not that I want to heap pressure on the Ms or somehow insult the Black Widow, the Lovely or indeed any of the other finalists, but if I was a bettin' man, I'd be inclined to put a few nicker on 'em.

Know what I mean?

Oh, and talkin' of bettin', you couldn't lend us a few bob, could ya?

Only there's a dead cert running in the 4.20 at Newton Abbot and I fancy a flutter.

[Sod off, Kok. One, I don't like you and two, if you've just done a fare to Heathrow you should be minted. I know how you diddle that the meter of yours.]

Well, that's the funny thing, Sand.

The geezer what I was drivin' looked well flush and, better still, he could hardly speak a word of the Queen's, so when I dropped him off at the wrong terminal on purpose, like, I just knew I had to charge him 300 quid for a laugh.

You know, just to take the piss.

Thing is, about 20 minutes later, I fancied a quick 'alf in this boozer.

So I saunter up to the bar all how's-your-father, like the bleedin' cat what's got the cream, and order a couple of Belfast splits.

Blow me if I go to pull out me wallet and there's nuffin' bloody in it.

Not a fackin' farthin'.

So I goes back to the cab to see if it'd fallen out when I hit that cyclist a couple a times but all I could find was this bit of paper that someone had written on in what tasted like blood.

[Yeah? So what did it say?]

Fack knows.

Somethin' about "Tell Sandi the debt has been paid. She'll never see me again" or somethin'.

[Really? Have you still got it? Can I see it?]

Nah, I wiped me arse on it after taking a dump in a bush.

My guts still ain't right from that doctored kebab you slipped me, you piss-stained mattress.

[So the debt is cleared, right? That's what it said? Tell Sandi the debt has been paid?]

I just bloody told ya, didn't I?

Are you mutton or just fackin' thick?

It said the debt's been paid, whatever the fack that means.

[F--king A! I wondered why things had suddenly stopped flying around the office. F--king hell, Kok, I could almost kiss you!]

I'd rather you didn't.

Anyway, don't look so please with yerself.

There's a couple of coppers downstairs askin' after you.

I told them to come up once I'd cleaned the blood of that knife.

Somethin' about finding your DNA on a piecrust, they said.

[Shit. Shit and bollocks.]


You're gonna swing!


Anyway, here are Sunday's results based on the MLE Twitter feed, the Eat Feats website and exclusive facebookifications with yours truly.

All errors are Kok's.


1) Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas (24 dozen oysters in 8 minutes; $1,000);

2) Aaron 'A-Train' Osthoff (21; $500);

3) Adrian 'the Rabbit' Morgan (18; $250);

4) Corey 'Da Bayou Boy' Fanguy (11);

5) Crazy Legs Conti (10);

6) Ryan Shams (5);

=7) Mia 'Meatballz' Davekos (3); and

=7) Someone else whose name we don't have (3).


1) Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut (25 pastrami sandwiches in 10 minutes; $3,750);

2) Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie (21; $1,900);

3) Bob 'Notorious B.O.B.' Shoudt (18.5; $1,100);

4) Tim 'Eater X' Janus (16; $500); and

5) Marcos 'the Monster' Owens (14; $250).

Sorry, but that's all we know at present because the rest of the field and their totals have yet to be announced.

However, we're damn sure that we spotted 'Beautiful' Brian Seiken, Yasir Salem and William 'Wild Bill' Myers among the assembled eatletes but exacly how much they gourmandised remains a mystery.


1) Molly Schuyler (31 HDBs in 10 minutes; Women's Seat, Coney Island, July 4);

2) Pablo Martinez (29; Men's Seat, Coney Island, July 4);

2) Eric 'Badlands' Booker (25);

3) Steve 'Not the Scottish Snooker Player' Hendry (24);

4) Craig 'the Keg' Reed (20);

5) Matthew Raible (12);

=7) Jeff Munson (11);

=7) Andrew 'the Bear' Kogutkiewicz (11);

9) Tim Ryan (10);

10) Courtney Taylor (8);

11) Lisa Murray (4); and

10) Nick 'the Recycler' Johnson (4).

A standing ovation for all who took part in Sunday's glorious gurgitations, including the organisers, sponsors and, of course, the all-essential emcees.

Monstrously massive Rake & Herald thank yous too to A-Train, the Rabbit, Da Bayou Boy, the Monster, Molly Schuyler and Pablo Martinez for their exclusive quotes.

We realise that it's probably a hassle fielding questions from us after a chowdown but your help is certainly very much appreciated.

Big, big thanks indeed.

And big, big thanks to all of you reading this.

We don't just write about competitive eating so please feel free to have a mooch round the site as a whole.

Go on, click some of those links on the left-hand side for starters.

You never know, you might find a typo, which would then make you eligible for an amazing prize beyond your wildest dreams.


But before you do that, here's some short clips of Sunday's action.

While the first vid comes courtesy of WWLTV, the second and third are embedded, respectively, from the YouTube channels of BoweryBoogie and Dawn Rossbach.

Bon appétit!

Right, gotta go.

The Old Bill's here.

You ain't seen me, right?

See also Hooters 'n' hot dogs, posted 13/5/13.

To fully understand why the police are after Sandi, make sure you read Jaws wreaks revenge, posted 24/5/13.

Do you like our Sandi's scribblings? If so, why not befriend her on that FaceBook thing? We don't let her out much, see, preferring instead to shackle her to her desk inside an indestructible cage (it's actually a Perspex box with a couple of air holes stabbed into it with a chisel). As such, she's terribly lonely and unloved. Please find it in your heart to help her before her constant whining drives us to kill her with a sharpened curtain rod. Remember, Sandi's life is in YOUR hands so get 'friending', or whatever the trendy modern verb is. Please. She's just started crying again.


1) While we know that Miki Sudo scoffed 40 HDBs in Las Vegas this past April and the Black Widow 34 in Atlantic City back in May 2011, we're not sure who the other female to scoff more than 30 is. We could guess but we won't. Sorry. Blame Kok.

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