Past Competitors category

Melody Andorfer, who ate 12 hot dogs in 5 minutes to win the Nathan's Famous eating contest held on Labor Day weekend in 1972, was honored at yesterday's weigh-in ceremony.
Spectrum Local News has an article about Melody Andorfer, winner of the 1972 Nathan's Famous Labor Day contest with a total of 12 hot dogs in 5 minutes. Major League Eating says they will acknowledge her at the 2021 finals.
In Leah Shutkever's latest video, she attempts to break Lynda Kuerth's mark of 23 bunless hot dogs in 3:10, which was recognized as a Guinness World Record in 1977.
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)


  • 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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Lucrative Washington state eating challenges past & present

Big Al’s in Vancouver, WA (north Portland, OR area) has a 10 pound burger challenge that will award a 46 inch TV, a Sony home theater surround sound system and a Sony Play Station 3 to a diner who completes it. It is not clear if the prize package will be awarded to the first finisher, the fastest finisher or if all finishers will be entered into a lottery.

One of the largest previous eating challenge payouts also occurred in Washington State. The Google News archive has a column about Mandy Brown, a school bus driver weighing 125 pounds, being the first to complete a meal billed as the world’s largest chicken fried steak at Thudpucker’s restaurant in Spokane in 1992. There were 850 previous unsuccessful attempts at the challenge before Ms. Brown finished it in 84 minutes and she received a prize of $1,200.

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1984 Nathan’s finals picture

MLE has a twitpic of the 1984 Nathan’s finals. Winner Birgit Felden is probably second from right.

update has an interview with Birgit Felden which mentions her participation on the national judo team but not her Nathan’s victory.

Judosite reports
Birgit Felden came in second place in the Under 20 nationals in the 61 kg (134 lb.) weight class.

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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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Female Green Burrito (So Cal) burrito champion

OCMexFood has a review of Green Burrito in La Habra, California which includes a picture of the restaurant’s burrito champion. The picture has the following caption:

This is a winner, who came to the GREEN BURRITO one lucky Saturday in November. Our winner ate three (3) Big Ed Burritos and claimed $300.00. The owner of the GREEN BURRITO could not believe that this little 130lb, 5’9″ girl really ate all three Big Ed Burritos. He challenged her. “Come back next Saturday, eat three Big Ed Burritos and I’ll give you $1000.00. If you cannot do it, you must return the first $300.00


Again – three Big Ed Burritos weighing over 7 lbs. [presumably total – not 7 lb. each] in less than 35 minutes and won $1,300.00. BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!

Reports about the burrito champion have been floating around the internet have been floating about the internet since at least 2001. No information is provided in the blog entry about the champion’s name or date of her challenges (it was probably in the 1980s based on the jacket style). The $300 award for finishing three Big Ed burritos has apparently not been available since Carl’s Jr. acquired the Green Burrito chain.

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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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Little Arlene in Sports Illustrated

A 1973 article in Sports Illustrated about Pete Maravich mentions a halftime eating exhibition by Little Arlene:

Over the last five years the Hawks’ owners have tried five different general managers in the hope of getting reluctant Georgians, who stay home in the hope that Tuesday night football might miraculously appear on the tube, out to watch basketball. The latest candidate is 33-year-old Pat Williams, a promotional wizard fresh from crowd-building stints in Philadelphia and Chicago where he staged such halftime acts as Victor the Wrestling Bear and Little Arlene.

Williams, a mild-mannered, bespectacled, churchgoing sort, remembers Arlene with particular fondness because she was recommended to him in Philly by a player he had farmed out to Scranton of the Eastern League. Arlene, who weighed just 105 pounds, challenged five grown men to an eating contest and won by gobbling 77 hot dogs, 21 medium pizzas and 19 Cokes during a 76ers’ game. She then told the public-address announcer to inform the audience that she would take on any five fans in a postgame oyster-eating bash at Bookbinders restaurant. Hoping to come up with another red-hot attraction, Williams called a meeting of the Hawks and asked for their ideas. The only one he received came from Maravich, who allowed as how he thought a lot of folks would show up if Williams screened Deep Throat every halftime.

The exhibition also appears in a recent book about Maravich.

Pat Williams did an interview last month where he mentioned Little Arlene, but does not offer any additional details about her.

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Bunless hot dog contests in Philadelphia

As far as I am aware, Lynda Kuerth’s 1977 mark is still the unofficial Philadelphia record for bunless hot dog eating:

1977 Veterans Stadium, Lynda Kuerth, 23 hot dogs in 3:10, recognized as Guinness hot dog record until at least 1988
2005 Wing Bowl stunt, Humble “Bob” Shoudt qualified by eating 20 hot dogs in 3:40
2007 Wing Bowl stunt “Dr. WingLove” (3rd place in 2006 Wing Bowl) DQed attempting to eat 25 bunless hotdogs in 5 minutes
2008 Wing Bowl stunt “Sticky” Pete “Philly Guy Miernicki, ate 12-14 hot dogs in 3:30, needed to eat 20 hot dogs


1887 quail eating challenges

Happy Thanksgiving. A day devoted to massive poultry consumption is an appropriate time to bring up the Chicago quail eating challenges of 1887. In the Chicago Tribune, Miss Wesley claimed that she could eat two quails a day for 30 days. Her challenge was a response to J.C Mann winning $1,000 after he bet with George R. Clark who claimed that no man could eat a quail a day for 30 days. J. C. Mann disproved Clark’s claim. No news of Ms. Wesley’s success or failure appears in subsequent editions of the Chicago Tribune.


Eleanor Reynolds, 1915 Harlem lobster winner

The New York Times archives from before 1923 are now available free of charge, making accessible an article describing Eleanor Reynolds’s victory in a 1915 eating contest in Harlem in which she ate 22 lobsters, defeating the male runner up by 5 lobsters.

An excerpt from the article’s PDF file follows after the jump

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Melody Andorfer – Nathan’s 1972 Labor Day champion

In the 1970s, Nathan’s held hot dog contests at times other than the fourth of July. The winner of the 1972 Labor Day weekend contest was Melody Andorfer, who ate 12 hot dogs & buns in 5 minutes. The AP did an article on her victory which was printed by several newspapers in the Google News archive:

Nathan’s 23rd annual hot dog eating contest separated the women from the boys at Coney Island Saturday. The woman went to the top. “I can’t believe I ate that all” said the winner, a 105-pound brunette, after she finished 12 seven-inch hot dogs in five minutes, rolls and all. Eighteen-year-old Melody Andorfer, of Astoria, Queens, who belongs to the National Organization for Women and several other liberation groups, drank three large colas with her male runner-up after she beat seven other women and eight men in the contest. Then she had a sandwich for lunch. The runner-up, 260-pound Gary Silverman, 19, Brooklyn, asked the winner for a date after he managed to devour 10 hot dogs during the event. Miss Andorfer, who said she did not feel queasy after the contest, asserted she had ham and eggs, coffee, and orange juice for breakfast. Asked why she entered The contest, Miss Andorfer said, “I’m determined not to let those male chauvinist pigs dominate us any longer.”

No other reports of Ms. Andorfer defending her title or entering another contest can be found online. (A 1973 Coney Island Labor Day weekend hot dog contest was converted to a corn contest due to lack of beef):

Throngs of people flocked to Coney Island on Saturday and some of them found they beat the heat only to encounter another problem: the beef shortage. Because of the lack of beef, a hot dog eating contest was turned into a corn-on-the-cob eating contest. The winner downed four ears of corn in less than three minutes.

After her victory, Melody Andofer does appear on the front pages of two newspaper modeling swimwear at Coney Island:

Charleston Daily Mail Thursday, July 05, 1973

PATRIOTIC DISPLAY- Melodie Andorfer displays a stars and stripes bikini Wednesday at New York’s Coney Island. She was one of thousands who migrated to the beaches on the Independence Day holiday.

The Chronicle Telegram June 1, 1974, Elyria, Ohio

Displaying the Colors One of Melody Andorfer’s lesser known attributes is her ability as a seamstress. Here she models a swim suit she put together for the opening of Coney Island, New York’s summer playground.

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Little Arlene: 70+ hot dogs in the 1970s?

The new biography of Pete Maravich mentions a halftime eating exhibition by Little Arlene:

At 105 pounds, Little Arlene earned her measure of notoriety by ingesting 77 hot dogs, 21 pizzas and 19 Cokes during halftime of a 76ers game.

Little Arlene’s numbers seem difficult to believe, but Google’s news archive search also brings up others articles mentioning Little Arlene’s eating feats.

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Joan of Arc as competitive eater

If you have ever wondered what Joan of Arc would be like if her field of expertise was competitive eating instead of medieval warfare, a post on the Westside Eclectic Blog has envisioned that scenario:

Joan was born to a night watchman and landowner named Jacques d’Arc. From a young age, Joan of Arc was a formidable eater. Her parents owned roughly 50 acres of arable land but could not keep animals or grow crops without little Joan devouring the entire supply. The land was located in a small region of France which was still loyal to the French crown despite being surrounded by Burgundian lands. This, of course, was during the 100 Years War, and Burgundy had sided with the invading Brits to topple the French monarchy. Occasionally Joan’s hometown would be raided. During one such invasion the town was burned to cinders, leaving Joan with nothing but a few sooty chimneys to eat rapidly.


Time Magazine on the 1933 Ortonville corn contest

The archives for Time Magazine have an article with a paragraph about the 1933 corn eating contest held in Ortonville, Minnesota, where an AICE contest will take place this year:

At the Ortonville, Minn, harvest festival last year Mrs. L. W. Lindstrom munched hard for the women’s corn-eating championship, finished second to Pauline Lewis who set a women’s record of 25 ears. Ed (“Korn King”) Kottwitz won the men’s championship with a world’s record of 37 ears. Last week at the festival, with two dozen waitresses rushing supplies from steaming boilers chocked with Golden Bantam corn, Mrs. Lindstrom, 71 and every tooth her own, beat Pauline Lewis, 22, by one ear with a new women’s record of 45 ears. Ed Kottwitz kept his championship by chomping down 50 ears.

Mrs. Lindstrom’s performance is the best performance by an eater over the age of 70 I am aware of.

It is surprising that an eating contest would be held during the trough of the Great Depression.


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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25th anniversary of Sharon Scholten’s chili dog mark

On March 13, 1982, Sharon Scholten (now Sharon VanDuinen), a petite 5’3″ and 110 pound 25 year old, broke the chili dog record at the Rockford Corner Bar by eating 42.5 chili dogs in four hours. That record would last for almost 24 years and only Tim Janus and Balinda Gould have been able to better that performance.

The archived article about Ms. Scholten provides some interesting background information about her feat:

Saturday looked to be a normal day until her brother-in-law Jimmy Scholten suggested that she try for the record

That was after she had eaten lunch – a Mexican pizza for two, a half order of nachos, four baskets of chips and an enchilada.

But she thought she’d give it a try. After all, she met the woman’s mark two years ago by swallowing 20 franks. And there wasn’t much else to do that night.

“We were just talking about it that afternoon,” she said, “It wasn’t something I planned. I didn’t think I could do it. But Jimmy told me he had bet $600 that I could do it so I thought I’d better try.”

It turns out Jimmy had no money riding on her meal, but his white lie was enough to get Sharon to break the record.

“I was upset,” she said. “I thought I had all this money coming. He told me I’d get 75% of the profit.”

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Jim’s Steaks Wall of Fame pictures from Steakbellie


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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20 foot sushi roll contest clip available

Metacafe has a clip of a 20 foot sushi roll eating contest between Takako Akasaka and Misao Fujita that was held in a bowling alley. A brief segment of that contest appeared in Takako Akasaka’s career highlights video which was available for a short time on youtube. The contest has narration in English, but the narrator provides nothing but insults.


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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Gluttonous Queens past and present

A clip of last Wednesday’s weekly eating contest between Natsuko “Gal” Sone and Nobuyuki “the Giant” Shirota has been uploaded to youtube. The challenge is to eat 6 kilograms of curry in under 15 minutes.

The blog of the restaurant where the challenge was held has an entry about the contest.

A youtube clip of some of Takako Akasaka’s contests is also available on youtube. She competes against a champion German eater in consuming 6 meters of frankfurters in Berlin and has another 6m sausage contest against Misao Fujita. She also participates in a wedding cake eating contest wearing a wedding dress.

This blog entry from April 2005 has an interesting comparison between Food Battle Club and TV Tokyo’s oogui programming.

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Kobayashi Food Battle Club clips on youtube

Several video clips of Food Battle Club have been uploaded to youtube. Food Battle Club is the Japanese competitive eating program with the most expensive production values.

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