Monday, February 06, 2006

Wing Bowl XIV "The Virgin Wing Bowl"

I got to bed around one in the morning, and turned around to rise at about 3:30 a mere 2.5 hours later. Dan "The Man" was at my front door coming in from the pouring rain at 10 till four. The usually animated Dan "The Man" had a glazed look in his eyes, I almost went to check for a pulse... I grabbed my camera, binoculars, and a small soft side cooler full of Pacifico bottles.

We get on the road, and Dan preforms some of his trademark driving where both he and I have white knuckles. The rain is just pounding the road and car alike, causing traction and visibility to be greatly impaired. Once we hit the ramp to Route 76 (Schuylkill Expressway) I knew that things were likely to get more intense. I check the clock, 4:15. I crack open a bottle of Pacifico, and settle in. I relish in the fact that here is a Friday morning that I am beginning to drink at 4am, and not a Saturday morning where I am finishing up at 4am. After 2 beers, in about 2o minutes, I stop worrying about the roads or the pilot.

Upon arriving at the parking lot, there were tents, kegs, grills, and just about everything one would expect at a tailgate for any major sporting event. But lets be fair, the way that our Philly teams have been performing, this is a major sporting event.

It is now a bit after five in the morning. We have made our way inside the Wachovia Center, have purchased commemorative t-shirts, and have found somewhere suitable to plant ourselves. It took a few minutes, because I wanted to be close enough to the tables to get some good shots of Scott "Boss Hog" Zimmerman in action.

The contestants started making their way in. Each contestant made a float and had an entourage. It took quite a while for 27 groups to fully make their way in and around the outside edge of a hockey rink. Scott came in on a white Cadillac that he and his buddies made, full with working lights, and bullhorns on the hood. He ended up winning the float building aspect of the day's competition, and justly so.

Dan "The Man" went down to make a deposit in the men's room and asked me if I wanted anything. I said screw it, grab me another beer and some wings if they've got 'em, if not I'll take some nachos!" Dan returns with a towering tray of nachos with cheese, salsa, and pickled jalapenos. I have to admit that after as much beer as I had at that hour in the morning, the nachos did not sound too far from normal for 5:45 am. But to my surprise and dismay, they did not start selling beer until 7am!!!! And that sales of beer would end sharply at 8:30! What surprised me most about this was that, I have heard from more than a couple people, they sell more beer at the Wachovia Center for Wing Bowls than they do for any sporting event all year long. Not hard to believe when you take into consideration the fact that you are bound to have a decent percentage of regular fans at a hockey or basketball game consisting of family or couples, and that all of the people who show up for Wing Bowl are the kind of people who got up early to watch guys eat's the time frame that is surprising.

There was scheduled to be all 27 contestants competing in a 14 minute eating round, and then trimmed down to 10 contestants in a second 14 minute eating round, trimmed down to five contestants in a 2 minute "eat out". Sorry, couldn't help myself.

All of the contestants are sitting and waiting. They put the first plates down and they are off. It was amusing to watch in general, and Scott "Boss Hog" Zimmerman kept a decent pace. The excitement of the event was watching a 67 year old guy nicknamed "The Locust" eat his wings. He had an effective, albeit disgusting, method to his madness. He would almost rotate the wing against his teeth at almost lightning speed and whatever made its way into his mouth did, and whatever fell to the plate he retrieved by hand and stuffed into his mouth. He was definitely the crowd favorite, every time he appeared on the big screen everyone would roar.

The first round concluded and Scott "Boss Hog" Zimmerman had not made the cut. I later found out that he was not upset, but rather relieved that he did not make it. He was edged out by ONE WING by the guy sitting next to him "Black Death".

The second round was under way and the crowd was really into it now with their favorites chosen and rooting, hooting, and hollering in abundance. With about 5 minutes left in the second eating round one of the guys, I can't figure out what his name was, let the floodgate loose. He projectile vomited a very respectable, if not amazing, amount of orange colored goo. It came out in such volume and force that it created a perfect 90-degree arc, and then hit the table in front of him, bouncing into another 45 degree arc. It was played large, loud, and proud for all of our viewing pleasure on the big screen.

The eating continued.

As the round ended there were still contestants with mouths full of chicken meat. I found out that once the round is over, you had to put down the wings, but you must swallow whatever is in your mouth at that time. Dr. Slob (as indicated by the word slob cut into his facial hair) took one of those deep breaths that I have seen a thousand times from working in bars, and he had that "Thousand yard stare". Once the cameraman noticed what some of us with binoculars had seen he quickly panned to him showing us the look on his face. The question was not if he would yak, but more when. Seconds later the video of the first guy I mentioned shows up, being played in forward and reverse. It was gross enough to see it come out, but to see it in reverse watching him "suck it back in" was stomach turning to some of us who weren't down there. The crowd was laughing as my hero, the guy at the helm of the video controls, runs it back and forth until Dr. Slob looks up. Once he got a good look at the "sucking it back up" version, he quickly turned backwards and lost it in a trashcan. Awesome!

We were now down to the final five. It was neck and neck between a guy by the name of Joey Chestnut (his real last name) and The Locust. It was only a two-minute round and relatively uneventful with the exception of increased speed. Chestnut edged out The Locust, by a very small margin. The total number eaten by Chestnut was 174. That number actually broke the previous record.

We later found out that Chestnut had found a loophole, or snuck through. He is actually a professional eater and a member of the IFOCE ranked number three. His profile here.

We left the Wachovia Center quickly after the crowning, and before the Wingette competition. Got back into the car, polished off the rest of the beers, got breakfast, and went home.

I later talked to Scott "Boss Hog" Zimmerman while I was shopping for groceries with my wife and daughter. Funny thing was that he called me right as I was stopped in front of the Giant Supermarket Wing Bar. A selection of room temperature wings that look like complete dog crap. As we spoke I had many questions. But given my location and his lethargy I asked but one...."How were the wings?"

They were not even buffalo style or hot wings; they were honey barbecue wings from some place in New Jersey. So these nasty wings were honey barbecue and shipped over from Jersey?!? That is something that is gross in itself. He told me that if they were actually hot wings it would have been easier. Even the guy who won, Joey Chestnut, was saying how god-awful they were. But when the prizes are fame, and fortune to the tune of a new car, a $6,000 ring, and a couple thousand dollar medallion, along with numerous side spiffs, you could push through and do what had to be done.

I figure that if Scott could get in by chugging Bleu Cheese dressing, and one of the other guys got in by eating 3 cheese steaks in 6 minutes, and another guy could make the cut by eating a pound of cookie dough to qualify for the big show, so can I.

Next year this time, be on the lookout for this post being all about how I won Wing Bowl 15. Virgin Wing Bowl II, Electric Boogaloo!

Here are the pictures of the events listed above - Wing Bowl XIV


At 2:19 PM, Anonymous evan said...

Can I be in the entourage? I'm furthermore more than happy to help with the float. Any idea what your moniker will be? I'll try to think of something.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Anthony "The Duke" said...

I would probably go with a "Godfather" motif. I thought about "Wingfather" but that just sounds plain f-ing dumb. You'd look good in pin-stripes!


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