As anyone who’s scrolled through YouTube will agree, people are awesome. When there’s a camera, an audience and something silly to be done, we never hesitate to risk life and limb to launch ourselves forward, all in the name of glory. Though not everyone can be exceptional, there are enough niche activities out there that most can give it a damn good go.
Food is, of course, just one area where people can commit themselves to doing daft things. But, perhaps more than most, there seems to be a variety and colour to the challenges that eaters undertake that is unrivalled by almost any other vocation. As we shall see, the things that people can put in their mouths are nothing short of amazing. Here are the seven most unbelievable eating achievements of all time.
7. Hot Dogs
Modern competitive eating is synonymous with hot dogs. Quite why pinkish processed meat tubes have become the weapon of choice for the modern dietary gladiator is unclear. What is clear is that people have piled up some seriously impressive hot dog records in recent years. The current weiner king is clearly eating legend Joey Chestnut, who last year broke his own world record by eating 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Many contemporary food records are impressive for their speed. Some, however, are less impressive than they are revolting. The mayonnaise speed eating record definitely falls firmly into the latter category. Set by American Oleg Zhornitskiy, the current record stands at 120 ounces in under eight minutes. That’s about 3.5 litres for anyone not using weird measurements.
5. Reaper Peppers
It’s not all about quantity when it comes to eating. As anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a particularly lethal chilli will tell you, spice can often prove just as painful. That being said, one of the most unbelievable achievements of all time belongs to Queens resident Wayne Algenio, who managed to eat 22 Carolina Reaper peppers - then the hottest chilli in the world - in 60 seconds.
Most record setting is a dangerous business. Speed drinking is no exception. However, all the expert warnings and opinions couldn’t stop Evan James, who set the world record for drinking a 500ml bottle of water, downing it in a mere 1.93 seconds. Not an attempt to be tried at home.
It follows that eating achievements would focus on food. Apparently not, if your name is Michael Lotito. The French entertainer performed one of the more unbelievable feats of consumption when, between 1978 and 1980, he persuaded to dissemble, cook and eat an entire Cessna 150 light aircraft.
What could possibly be less appetising than an aeroplane? It might technically count as food, but SPAM certainly comes close. Eating a tin of what is essentially posh dog food is awful at the best of times, but when you’re setting records, it becomes a waking nightmare. This nightmare became a reality for Dick LeFevre when he somehow managed to munch down six pounds of SPAM in 12 minutes.
Whatever you may think about SPAM, you’re safe in the knowledge that it isn’t alive. The same cannot be said for our final entry. In 2003, Indian eater C. Manoharan "Snake" Manu successfully dispatched 200 earthworms in 30 seconds, setting a record that still stands to this day. The prospect of one worm is hard enough to stomach - 200 is clearly a bridge too far for all but the most maverick of eaters.
Despite the achievements of everyone above, records are there to be broken. One day, someone will come along to take Chestnut’s crown and gorge themselves on hot dogs and SPAM. Until then, it’s best to leave this sort of thing to the experts. For God’s sake, don’t try and eat a plane.