In preparation for the second annual American Burrito Labor Day Burrito Eating Contest, Jamie McDonald drank a gallon of water with his breakfast of oatmeal and Joe Menchetti entered two other eating contests over the weekend, winning both.
Chad Wollman ate a light breakfast of two eggs and two pieces of toast, went to the gym to build up an appetite, and, perhaps most importantly, bought a ring.
The ring wasn’t part of his eating strategy. In fact, of the four entrants in the competition, Wollman was the only to not finish the burrito.
“Even though I lost, I do feel I’m a winner today, as scripted as that sounds,” he said.
That’s because after the contest, Wollman dropped to a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Christina Odell. The two will be together three years in November.
“We had a very good conversation a few weeks ago, just really talking about where we wanted to go from here,” said Wollman, of New City. “Me, I’m the type of guy that I’m goofy, I’ve just gotta do something kind of big, you know. I wanted to make it special.”
Odell, originally from Stony Point, didn’t know how to react. With many family and friends there to watch Wollman, Odell was speechless, which she said afterwards doesn’t happen to her that often. After the initial shock, she accepted.
“I’m happy that it was offbeat,” she said. “This, honestly, if anybody knows me, this is the perfect way to do it. I like quirky things and this was such a surprise. I love surprises.”
But prior to the engagement, there was the matter of those five-plus pound burritos filled with rice, pinto beans, cheddar cheese, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, pico de gallo and lettuce rolled up in three tortillas and topped with sour cream and guacamole. Last year, Dalton Jobson won the contest by downing the burrito in 12:43. He shaved about a minute off his time this year.
Unfortunately for Jobson, two new competitors were also in the contest, and they have quite a bit of experience with eating contests. McDonald won the contest, devouring the burrito in a restaurant-record 3:03. The previous record was 7:45, which McDonald set earlier this summer when he stopped at American Burrito on his way to a wing-eating contest.
On Saturday, McDonald won the Taste of Hamburg-er national hamburger eating contest in Reading, PA, by eating 11 hamburgers in 10 minutes. He said the most he’s eaten in one sitting was when he ate roughly 15 pounds of pulled pork sandwiches in 10 minutes.
McDonald, from Connecticut, said he read about the contest online.
“The food’s really good, so that helps,” he said. “Sometimes you get in these contests and the food isn’t any good.”
Menchetti, also from Connecticut, was in a sausage eating contest in Maryland and a wing eating contest in Maine over the weekend, taking home the crown in each. He finished the burrito on Monday in 3:47.
“I think if it was a four-pound burrito I might’ve had him,” Menchetti said. “I’m more of a sprinter and he’s a marathoner. At around the four-pound mark, I think I was a bit ahead of him.”
Ultimately, McDonald won the $300 prize. This year’s contest featured a new wrinkle: a chance for $500 extra by eating another entire five-pound burrito in less than 20 minutes. If the burrito wasn’t finished in time, it would cost the challenger $100.
McDonald ate the second burrito in about eight minutes, finishing about 10-and-a-half pounds of burrito in 11:15.
“I knew I could do it,” he said. “It was just how quickly I could do it.”
After the contest, McDonald said he was feeling okay, in a little bit of pain, but nothing unusual for minutes after a competition.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “I’ve been fuller.”
featured seven eaters, and while this year’s only had four, Max Crisp, owner of American Burrito, was pleased with the event.
“We sacrificed quantity for quality this year,” he said. “We actually had two more big time eaters signed up and ready to come here, one from Delaware and another from Philadelphia. When they found out Jamie was competing they decided not to show up because they’ve seen him in other competitions and didn’t think they had a chance at beating him.”
It was pretty soon into the competition when Wollman, sitting to McDonald’s immediate left, knew he didn’t have a shot either.
“I went kind of nuts, I just scooped up all the guac and sour cream, and just started eating that. It was all over my face,” he said. “Once I saw [where McDonald was], I just took my napkins and started to clean up. I was like, all right, I have something else to do.”
Wollman, nicknamed Wolfman, said another reason he decided to propose at the burrito eating contest was because he knew so many friends and family members were coming to watch him compete. Many, including Odell, wore shirts that read “Team Wolfman.”
“We were trying to get as many people here as possible,” Odell said. “That’s why we did the Team Wolfman thing, just to try to make it more special for [Chris].”
She added that she hadn’t yet considered if she’ll go by Mrs. Wolfman in the future, but said she’ll probably add a “Mrs.” somewhere on her “Team Wolfman” t-shirt. Even with the shirts made up, Wollman said he doesn’t have plans for any more eating contests.
“No,” he said. “I think this is a good day to retire in this field.”