Wood Street Pizza hosts wiener-eating contest
At 125 pounds, Ashley Bryan of Bristol stood next to her male competitors, some whom were nearly twice her size, and appeared unfazed. She and her friend, 123-pound Crystal Medeiros, were hungry for the race to begin.
The 10 competitors, eight men and two women, stood in a row outside Cavalieri’s Wood Street Pizza restaurant, and at 1 p.m., they were off and eating, trying to consume as many wieners as they could in 15 minutes.
Mike Cavalieri, owner of Wood Street Pizza, started the annual contest six years ago.
“It just sounded like it would be fun,” Mr. Cavalieri gave as a reason to hold the event.
Just before the 1 p.m. start time, the competitors hovered over their trays of 10 “gaggers, all the way.”
“We’re fat kids trapped in these tiny bodies,” Ms. Bryan said of her hearty appetite.
Last year the two friends came to watch the competition. This year the two returned as competitors “to show up the guys.”
“It just looked like fun,” said Ms. Bryan. “The only other girl to compete ate six. I’m hoping to go for seven.”
The girls’ strategy would be to break the dogs in half and eat as much as possible.
While the competitors prepared themselves for the start, Kris Vail, who provided music, went through his list of music to find his “favorite wiener eating songs.” Judges Courtney Guertin and Ed Brown, who was wearing a wiener hat, chatted with the competitors and went over the rules of the event. You get one bottle of water or Swing Juice to drink; you cannot dunk the buns and dogs in water; and you cannot touch or interfere with another competitor. Whoever eats the most wieners gets the $100 prize.
A large crowd of spectators gathered on the sidewalk for the competition. Mr. Viall and Ms. Guertin provided encouragement and a steady supply of innuendo jokes while the competitors gnawed on the dogs, smothered in meat sauce, chopped onions, mustard and celery salt.
With a little more than half of his tray of dogs gone, Chris Surgento of Warren was the first to drop out of the race. Shortly after, with only four dogs each gone, the two women waved off another bite. Ms. Bryan later went back to her tray and ate two more gaggers.
After several minutes, restaurant staff appeared with a second tray of dogs to replenish the supply for those still in the race. Jay Kindness — a.k.a. Chuck Swagger, of Bristol — held strong against the fiercest competitors, Don Luther, Anthony Hackett and Seth Hovey. But even their appetites were no match for Sao Young who came down from Lowell, Mass. for a shot at the prize.
At the end of the 15 minutes, Mr. Young had consumed 15 wieners. One fewer than last year’s winner, and three wieners shy of the Wood Street record of 18, but still enough to take home the prize. Mr. Hovey took second with 11 eaten wieners.
“This was my first time” said Mr. Hovey. “I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.”
Mr. Young admitted that he was familiar with competitive eating. Although not a professional, he considered himself to be a “casual eater,” having won another competition after eating 71 chicken wings in 10 minutes, a task he said was much easier than eating wieners.
“I hit the wall around 12 or 13 dogs,” he said. “The consistency of the meat topping was hard to get down.”
Mr. Cavalieri plans to hold another competition next year. When it was suggested that he join in the competition, his response was immediate: “Are you crazy?” he said.