Home Slice Pizza in Austin recently threw their 5th annual pizza carnival. The carnival raised over $15,000 for Habitat Young Professionals. But what the Home Slice Carnival O' Pizza is perhaps best known for is its wacky endurance contests: namely the pizza eating contest and the Hands On An Eggplant Sub (HOES) contest. The winner of each gets free pizza at Home Slice for an entire year.
The pizza eating contest is different from others in that it's more of a marathon than a sprint. Contestants have 30 minutes to eat as much pizza as they can, as opposed to only 10 or 12 minutes in other famous contests.
Chris Floyd won the previous four Home Slice pizza eating contests, and arrived ready to defend his crown. Chris prepped for five weeks beforehand, engaging in training sessions that focused on time and technique.
Billy "Porkchop" Chedsey is now a regular on the small-scale Austin eating contest circuit. His first eating competition was last year's Home Slice pizza eating contest, which he narrowly lost to Chris. He told me a bit about his training: "I actually went to Cici's twice by myself to prep and ate as much as I possibly could both times. Sounds depressing, huh? It is," lamented Porkchop.
On the fateful day, they were buoyed by an intoxicated cheering section. Five minutes in, Porkchop and Chris pulled away from the pack. Porkchop finished his first pizza after about 12 minutes, with Chris 30-40 seconds behind. Then the brutal nature of the event began to take its toll: "At that point in the contest, the rate of eating had already slowed down considerably, and it was getting tougher and tougher to swallow comfortably" said Chris.
Porkchop and Chris struggled through the second pizzas, and crammed in as much as they could at the closing bell. They had both made quite a mess, and the outcome could only be determined by weighing the debris.
Porkchop prevailed by ¼ oz of crust. A new king was crowned.
Chris plans to still go to Home Slice as a paying customer, foreign as the concept may be to him. Porkchop plans to take full advantage of his year of free pizza, and will be taking on any eating challengers at the monthly eating contests at Dirty Bill's bar.
Hands on an Eggplant Sub (HOES)
As hard core as the eating contest was, nothing could top the HOES showdown. Here's how it works: competitors (warriors? gladiators?) must stand outside with one hand on an eggplant sub sandwich. The last person to take his or her hand off wins. No sitting, no smoking, no booze, no "soiling thyself", and one 5 minute bathroom break every 10 hours(!!!).
There were only 6 competitors this year. After 24 hours, three hands were on the sub.
Then 30 hours came, and went. Then 40 hours came, and went. Then 50 hours came, and went.
After 58 hours, It came down to Lauren and Sonia. Lauren was a newcomer to the contest. She had one training session (practicing not going to the bathroom for 10 hours), and upon passing that, figured she could win.
Sonia, on the other hand, was no stranger to the sub. Two years ago, she lost to me after only 7.5 hours when she accidentally took her hand off the sandwich while trying to adjust her blankets. Ready for vengeance, she aimed to compete last year, but was accidentally told the wrong start time. This year, she was ready (and on time).
The contest wasn't without its amusing moments, especially after the bars let out: "One lady drunk-stealthed up behind me," remembered Lauren, "and just started enthusiastically poking my arm to 'test my commitment to the sandwich.'" Both competitors thought they could win, but exhaustion took its toll. After 2 1/2 sleepless days, the mental heath of Sonia and Lauren seemed shaky at best. Home Slice's staff began to get nervous about the potential health and legal ramifications of the contest's longevity. Last year's contest was the longest ever at 30.5 hours, and this quickly doubled that mark.
By this point Sonia seemed the weaker of the two. She was hallucinating, texting gibberish, and struggling to keep her focus. Lauren, however, maintained her steely presence.
With a news crew looking on at the 64th hour, Sonia's sleep-deprived mind told her that she had to de-eggplant the eggplant sub. While doing so with her free hand, she took her competing hand off, thus ending the contest.
Sonia went home immediately, showered, and slept. Every night since the contest, she's had a dream involving putting her hand on something. Since she's applying for PhD programs out of state, it's unlikely that she'll compete again.
The winner, Lauren, managed to pull through just fine. She didn't have any lingering ill-effects. She even watched a movie and drank a victory Lone Star before embracing the sleep of champions. She'll be documenting her year of free pizza at Home Slice at Pizza 365.
Congratulations to Porkchop and Lauren for their unbelievable feats of victory, and to Home Slice for having another great carnival while raising over $15k for charity.
About the Author: Seth Mazow won the last two HOES contests, and documented his winnings and adventures at Year Of The Pizza.