Lynda Kuerth category

Joey Chestnut's victory at Dorney Park was not the only cheesesteak news this weekend. Takeru Kobayashi went to Tony Luke's and dined with Bill "El Wingador" Simmons. Another Philadelphia cheesesteak pilgrimage was made when Paul Wozniak went to Jim's Steaks to pay homage to his mother in law Lynda Kuerth eating 11 sandwiches in 1978 to set the house record, since broken by Bob Shoudt. He wore Lynda's 30+ year old Jim's Steaks T-shirt to the restaurant. (An article from 1978 mentioning the feat)

Man vs. Food September 23 (Philadelphia) episode links

Travel Channel Episode Guide | Slideshow | Side of the City video (South Street)

Restaurants

  • Tony Luke’s Challenge – Ultimate Cheesesteak
    Home Page | Citysearch | Yelp
    Video clip about the Ultimate Cheesesteak’s construction
    The Ultimate Cheesesteak was apparently created solely for the episode; it is not listed on the online menu.
  • Franklin Fountain meal – Mount Vesuvius sundae
    Home page | Citysearch | Yelp
  • Dinic’s Roast Beef & Pork meal – Italian roast pork sandwich
    Yelp | Holly Eats review

List of Philadelphia area eating challenges in the eatfeats database

It would be interesting to learn why a made for TV sandwich at Tony Luke’s was used as the episode’s challenge when Jim’s Steaks has maintained a cheesesteak record for over 30 years. Perhaps the current record of 13 cheesesteaks in an hour by “Humble” Bob Shoudt was too daunting. (The program guide says that Jim’s Steaks will appear in the episode.)

13 cheesesteaks might not be the overall Philadelphia record. In a 1978 article, Lynda Kuerth, Jim’s steaks record holder from 1977 to 2001 (11 sandwiches) said she ate 15 steak sandwiches during a visit to Philadelphia. (The location and duration of that feat was not mentioned.)

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1970s articles on Guinness eating records

The Los Angeles Times did an article in 1972 on the eating and drinking exploits of Eddie “Bozo” Miller, called the “World’s Greatest Trencherman” by The Guinness Book of World Records which is now available for free. Part 1 | Part 2

A Chicago Tribune article from 1978 about Guinness record holders describes Lynda Kuerth breaking of the hot dog record the previous year:

Indeed, hot dogs proved the ticket. [Jimmy] Davenport gulped down 20 in 3 minutes, 33 seconds to set a new world record. Yet, uneasy is the head that wears the crown, so Davenport embarked on his quest to tighten his grip on the 1978 edition. He then halved the existing time for eating 2 1/2 pounds of shrimp. He confronted his old nemesis and bettered the time for swallowing 14 hard boiled eggs, a record held by England’s redoubtable Peter Dowdeswell. (who also is beer-drinking king). Davenport defended his titles in Baltimore, New Orleans, and finally headed for Philadelphia and Veterans Stadium, where, before 32000 witnesses, he planned to put away the frankfurter record for keeps.

How could he possibly have recognized the dangerous pretender to the throne, the slim young woman beside him, whose mysterious smile alternated between Davenport and her imposing franks. Little did he know this was the legendary Lynda Kuerth, whose name first had made news after she consumed 15 banana splits at Olivet College, Olivet, Mich. Little did Davenport know that, while he was downing his strategic pre-contest meal the night before (“to swell the stomach”), Kuerth was tossing down baked potatoes, salads, and four T-bone steaks at Jimmy’s Steak House. And when the big scoreboard clock read 3 minutes, 10 seconds, the amazing Kuerth had stolen both the hearts of the screaming crowd and the title with an astonishing 23 frankfurters.

Already Kuerth has heard rumors of 22 hot dogs eaten since, hot dogs eaten since, but she’s confident she can turn back any challenge. She modestly attributes her unique process to nothing more than cool nerves and high metabolism.

The Sports Illustrated archive has a long 1979 profile of the McWhirter brothers, co-founders of The Guinness Book of World Records which reports that Norris McWhirter personally decided that the sausages used in the hot dog record should weigh 2 ounces.

The AP reported on a 1979 event in Washington State where participants attempted to break various Guinness eating records. (No attempts were successful.)

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Free Lynda Kuerth article available

Some free newspapers have been added to the Google News archives. One article describes Lynda Kuerth’s (spelled Linda Querth) victory in the 1977 Olivet College banana split eating contest. Ms. Kuerth’s mark of 13 banana splits doubled her closest competitor’s total, but was two less than the amount she ate in 1976. She did not starve herself before the contest but instead ate 6 slices of meat loaf for dinner before having the banana splits for dessert.

Lynda Kuerth’s victory came to the notice of contest organizers at Jim’s Steaks in Philadelphia which resulted in her travelling east to compete there and becoming the record holder at that restaurant for the remainder of the 20th century.

An image of the article is available after the jump.
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Lynda Kuerth’s non-Philadelphia contests

The UEPa cheesesteak tour will start at Jim’s Steaks, where Lynda Kuerth broke the challenge record twice in 1977. She also won a bunless hot dog eating contest in Philadelphia that year. Google news search has recently added searching scanned newspaper archives, which has made it possible to try to piece together Ms. Kuerth’s eating contest history. Some contest results from that archive are below:

1975 winner Olivet College (MI) banana split eating contest (amount unknown)
1976 winner Olivet College (MI) banana split eating contest (15 banana splits)
1977 winner Olivet College (MI) banana split eating contest (13 banana splits)
1978 winner Polock Johnny’s Polish sausage eating contest (Baltimore) 19 Polish sausages

Quotations from the source articles are after the jump (Lynda’s name is spelled incorrectly in all articles):

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Jim’s Steaks Wall of Fame pictures from Steakbellie

jimssteakslynda5.jpg

Steakbellie was recently in Jim’s Steaks in Philadelphia and he took some pictures of the Wall of Fame and emailed them. There are apparently just two members of the Wall of Fame. Lynda Kuerth ate 11 cheesesteaks in an hour and a half in 1977 and high school football player Alex Friedman bested that by one sandwich in 2001. The pictures of Alex Friedman are surrounded by receipts for his steaks. The wall has apparently yet to be updated with “Humble” Bob Shoudt’s record breaking 13 cheesesteaks in January. Pictures of the Wall of Fame are available after the jump.

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Lynda Kuerth – Trencherwoman of the disco era (Post #1000)

(This is the post with id # 1000. There are actually fewer posts available on this blog due to deletions and cancelations, but I thought it still deserved a more significant entry than just a one sentence post linking to another article.)

LyndaKuerth.jpg If you have a Guinness Book of World Records from the late 1970s or 80s, there are several pages devoted to eating records in it, and in that section, there is probably a picture of Olivet, Michigan native Lynda Kuerth standing over a plate of hot dogs at a contest at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1977. Ms. Kuerth won that event by eating 23 bunless hot dogs in 3 minutes and 10 seconds (at bottom of link). Her victory is mentioned in an article about Sharon Scholten, another female hot dog eating champion. This mark compares reasonably well with current eaters’ results. Humble Bob Shoudt ate 20 bunless hot dogs in 3 minutes and 40 seconds in his successful qualifying stunt for the the 2005 Wing Bowl. It is interesting that a female competitive eater surprised a Philadelphia stadium crowd over a quarter century before Sonya Thomas shocked Wing Bowl 12 spectators at Wachovia Center in 2004.

Lynda Kuerth showed that her talents extended to long duration events when she set the cheesesteak eating record at Jim’s Steaks in Philadelphia by eating 11 sandwiches in 90 minutes in 1978 or 1979. (I am not sure if this record still holds, but it lasted at least two decades if it has been broken. Her trips from Michigan to Philadelphia invalidate Don “Moses” Lerman’s claim that he is the first competitive eater to travel outside his or her home region for contests. Gregg Kirk wrote an article about Jerry Lehane III’s attempt to break Ms. Kuerth’s cheesesteak record (he finished with 7 sandwiches) around 2000 which is not available on the web. The last paragraph offers a description of Lynda and her feats:

In 1978, in an effort to generate publicity for his establishment, [Jim's Steaks owner] Abner Silver decided to have an eating contest. One night on the news, he saw a human-interest story on Olivet, MI native Lynda Kuerth who had broken the Guiness Book of World Records title for banana split eating. After making a few phone calls to the television station, Abner got in touch with Lynda and agreed to fly her to Philly and give her a place to stay for the competition. That year, Lynda ate 10 1/2 steaks in an hour and a half, and later that year she appeared in Veteran’s Stadium and broke the Guiness Book of World Records in hot dog eating (without the bun). She ate 23 hot dogs in a minute and a half. The next year, she returned to Jim’s to break her own record by eating 11 steaks. No one has been able to come close since. Oh, and how big is Lynda, who now lives a quiet life in Michigan with a husband and two kids? “She was about five ft., eight and about 135 lbs.,” says Abner. “She had an amazing metabolism.”

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