Up close with a competitive eater


Back in my entertainment reporting days, I somehow landed on the absolutely disgusting competitive-eating beat. Cincinnati had embraced the sport, and it seemed as though every other restaurant was offering a gut-busting challenge: obscene burritos, exploding gyros, pizzas bigger than coffee tables, submarine sandwiches you could float in.

Over time, I befriended the person who was gobbling up all the local eating crowns — Joe LaRue, a massive, surprisingly gentle dude in Kentucky who just so happens to love food. Joe’s a native New Yorker and a former rising star in the competitive eating circuit who got the boot for participating in non-Major League Eating-sanctioned events. (For all that sloppy hot dog eating, the Eater’s World is a tightly controlled one.) Joe was hurt by the dismissal, deeply. But he kept eating.

Which is how it came to be that one morning, I sat with Joe and his girlfriend as he attempted — and in a rare twist, failed — to eat the 3-pounds-ground-beef-6-fried-eggs-12-strips-bacon-12-slices-cheese burger in 30 minutes or less at Joe’s Diner in Over-the-Rhine. I wrote about it for Metromix and didn’t eat for a day. I was going through some old photos this morning, and I found my record of that day, and I thought you might like to see this.

Let us explore the emotions of the competitive eater on a day in which he does not win.

Joe. Burger. No biggie.

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What your favorite Berenstain Bears book says about you

Like this book, hate going to the bars.

I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to the great Jan Berenstain, who died Friday at the age of 88. Jan and her husband, Stan (though I usually advocate steering clear of rhyming spousal names, I’ll make an exception here), wrote and illustrated hundreds of books, among them the popular “Berenstain Bears” series.

I devoured these books when I was a kid. Somewhere in Circle Pines, Minn., sits a stack of dog-eared, well-loved books that taught me the dangers of junk food and strangers and greed and partying. I read them constantly, over and over again, but I always gravitated toward one book in particular.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I conducted a highly scientific study in which I made things up and wrote them down so that you, dear reader, can see what your favorite BB books says about you. Let’s get started with my top read.

Continue reading “What your favorite Berenstain Bears book says about you”