Now Lenten observances are less rigorous, and they certainly didn't inhibit the Grilled Cheese-Eating Championships from being held last week in Venice Beach, Calif., where renowned gurgitator Sonya Thomas walked away with the $3,500 grand prize after eating 25 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes. Weighing in at only 105 pounds, Sonya is prominent among the new type of athletes known as competitive eaters, or gurgitators, and she holds numerous titles, including asparagus (5.75 pounds of fried tempura-coated spears in 10 minutes), lobsters (38 in 12 minutes), and cheesecake (11 pounds in 9 minutes).
These and many other gorging contests are sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, which disallows people younger than 18 from competing and discourages speed-eating at home, even for training.
The IFOCE considers speed-eating a sport. Their pantheon of athletes includes 409-pound Cookie Jarvis (one gallon, 9 ounces of ice cream in 12 minutes), the cornbread-loving Yellow Cake Subich and Carlene LeFevre, "a fierce and highly focused competitor who releases excess energy by popping up and down as she eats," which "helps to tamp down the food in her stomach."
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 21 February 2005