Journalist Ryan Nerz spent a year penetrating the highest echelons of international competitive eating and Eat This Book is the fascinating and gut-bustingly hilarious account of his journey.
Nerz gives us all the facts about the history of the IFOCE (Independent Federation of Competitive Eating)--from the story of a clever Nathan's promotion that began in 1916 on the corner of Surf and Stillwell in Coney Island to the intricacies of individual international competitions, the controversial Belt of Fat Theory and the corporate wars to control this exploding sport. He keeps the reader turning the pages as we are swept up in the lives of Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, "Cookie" Jarvis, "Hungry" Charles Hardy, and many other top gurgitators whose egos and secret agendas, hopes and dreams are revealed in dramatic detail. As Nerz goes on his own quest to become a top gurgitator, we become obsessed with him as he lies awake at night in physical pain from downing dozens of burgers and learning to chug gallons of water to expand his increasingly abused stomach.
Sparing no one's appetite, Nerz reveals the training, game-day strategies and after-effects of competition in this delectably shocking banquet of gluttony and glory on the competitive eating circuit.
With barbecue sauce soaked tongue planted firmly in cheek, Nerz chronicles his amusing adventures in the perverse, repellent, strangely heroic world of "competitive eating." Having moved beyond county fair pie-eating contests, competitive eating is now a global challenge involving national pride, superstars and, in 2005, $200,000 in prize money. Freelance journalist Nerz falls in with the denizens of this world while covering the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest for the Village Voice. There, the diminutive Japanese Takeru Kobayashi overturns years of American dominance by consuming 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. From the gastronomical excesses of Coney Island, it's a short hop to the sadomasochistic extremes of Japan, where, during the Superman Dash, "Hungry" Charles Hardy and Kazutoyo Arai devour 180 bento box lunches between them. Along the way, records are broken and countless calories are consumed. Hired by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), Nerz travels the U.S., promoting jambalaya-eating contests in New Orleans, chicken-eating blowouts in Philadelphia and fried asparagus feasts in Sacramento. Despite disgusting details vomiting, distended bellies, etc. Nerz presents his story with glee and good humor. 30 pages of b&w photos.