By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 15, 2015 at 5:19 AM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

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Traditionally, eating contests occurred at county fairs and involved pies. However, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is now the most famous in the country. The Coney Island contest has happened every year since the ‘70s on July 4 and the current record was set by a Japanese competitive eater who downed 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Because the event receives extraordinary media exposure, including ESPN, it has contributed to the popularity of competitive consumption.

All Pro Eating (APE) has brought more competitive eating to spectators. The APE is the only independent competitive eating organization in the world and offers sanctioned eating competitions. Last year, interviewed Molly Schuyler, a recognized All Pro Eater who holds numerous world records, including the record for consuming the most bacon – five pounds in five minutes and 21 seconds. She also broke records after eating 440 chicken wings in 26 minutes and three 72-ounce steak dinners in 20 minutes.

Although competitive eating has been widely criticized for its message of gluttony, possible contribution to obesity and disrespect for world hunger, it continues to increase in popularity. Reality television programs like Travel Channel’s "Man V. Food" fed the public's fascination with the phenomenon for three seasons.

Every year, The Wisconsin State Fair offers contests to determine who can eat the most (or the fastest) jalapeños, cereal, baked potatoes and, of course, cream puffs. Possibly more interesting than a competitive eating contest is the number of people who show up to watch a competitive eating contest.

I have competed in the celebrity potato eating contest – or "celebrity" potato eating contest as I prefer – at least four times and the "celebrity" cream puff eating contest for the past two years. This year was by far my best effort – I won the potato contest by speed eating a spud covered in cheese in under a minute – and I did a respectable job in the cream puff eating contest this year. But it wasn't pretty.

The puff competition required participants to devour three full-sized cream puffs and although I ate all three, I was unable to lap up all the cream. Hence, for the umpteenth year in a row, Heather Wojciechowski DeCaire from the Milwaukee Admirals scored the win. 

DeCaire, however, is retiring after this year and so perhaps I have a chance next year. Then again, I have a pretty serious lactose intolerance which seems to get worse every year, not better, so maybe 2015 was my peak year in dairy-related competitive eating competitions. 


My 11-year-old son Levi, who inherited my large mouth, had a year of speed eating success as well. In March, he won a kids' marshmallow Peep eating contest at Tonic Tavern and on Thursday, he won the kids’ cream puff eating contest in the age 10-12 division.

This is the stuff college recruiters are looking for, right?

My speed eating milestones this year were not accidental. Interviewing Schuyler really got me thinking about the merits and drawbacks of shoving insane amounts of food into one’s mouth. I also developed a few strategies, somewhat jokingly, but I also had to find the head- and mouth-space to win because I was really damn sick of losing these things.

So I showed up ravenous. I did ridiculous and rigorous mouth exercises (see video). I reminded myself that God or whomever gave me my big mouth for more reasons than just to yell at my kids.

And I won. And I almost won again. And I watched my son win, who was originally nervous to get on stage because it was a new experience for him. Once again, I am amazed and humbled by what is possible when one puts their mind to something, even if it's as frivolous as competitive eating.

On that note, I'm taking another Pepcid.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.