The Cupcake Love-In Cupcake Eating Contest
The average person's stomach can hold about a liter of food, or close to two pounds' worth. But who wants to be average? All over town, restaurants are offering up contests of confection, defying brave eaters to ingest more food than they should eat in a week -- daily recommended values be damned!
Armed with a big mouth and an empty stomach, our intrepid writer Zach Fowle has dared to become one of these food fighters -- travelling metro Phoenix to face new challenges and prove to the animal kingdom that man belongs at the top of the food chain.
Forget a box of chocolates -- life is like a cupcake contest. You never know what you'll get. And sometimes, you get cilantro.
I'm at the Cupcake Love-In, the first-ever cupcake festival in Arizona. The brainchild of cupcake divas Kelly Garcia and Tracy Dempsey, the event benefited Singleton Moms and Safe Haven for Animals, and spread the mantra of "Peace, Love and Cupcakes!"
|Crybaby Ranch's cupcake presentation, dubbed "Strawberry Fields"|
A daylong celebration of all things tiny, baked and topped with frosting, the Love-In features unlimited cupcake samples from local bakers, cupcake judging, raffles and, of course, an eating contest. Guess which part I'm here for?
The contest rules are simple: I have two minutes to eat as many of the 11 beautiful cupcakes laid out in front of me as I can. There are no restrictions whatsoever -- just eat the whole cupcake using whatever means necessary.
Our host, Thomas Smith (from FEZ) introduces the challengers, and the competition is stiff: there's Jeff Krauss of Truckin' Good Food, Chefs Wade Moises of Adobe Restaurant and James Porter of Petite Maison, and a 12-year-old girl with a Bieber-sized group of loudly-cheering fans. The winner gets the metaphorical crown of "Cupcake Champion," as a well as a literal crown that's pretty, pink and made of foam. I must have it.
Two minutes is a short time -- not long enough to fill you up. So this contest would be won by the eater with the best strategy. Looking around at my fellow competitors, it was obvious each had his or her own way of tackling these tiny cakes. Most of them had one or two large glasses of water set aside for dipping; others, like me, opted for the more classic accompaniment of milk.
I eye the 11 tasty treats before me. Each is different and exciting. The tiniest is a biscuit-like number, peppered with mysterious green bits and topped with a pat of frosting that looked like gravy. I decide this will be my first victim.
Smith yells, "GO!" and the contest begins. I take my first bite of the weird little biscuit-cake. Those green bits? Turns out they're cilantro. Amy wasn't kidding about these weird-ass flavor combos.
The thing (for that's all I could call it) gave me serious dry mouth. I wash it down with two swigs of water and move on, but after such a sputtering, slow start I know I'm already well behind.
I grab the next cupcake, a light brown behemoth with tan frosting. Banana! A breath of fresh air. It's absolutely delicious, and I dispatch it in three bites with the help of some milk.
I'm gaining speed, but still off the leader's pace, so I go for a tinier cupcake. This one turns out to be chocolate, and I take huge bites, chewing feverishly. When my mouth gets too dry, I take a swig of milk to lube everything up again.
I'm moving through these cupcakes more quickly than I thought I would, so I decide to go for broke, grabbing the biggest cupcake on my table. It's massive, red velvet-flavored with about a pound of whipped cream atop. I stuff half the ting in my mouth all at once and try to wash it down with milk, but it's no good. My mouth's so full of cupcake that no milk can get in. I'm covered in frosting and coughing cupcake bits. I've never felt sexier.
As Smith announces that only 20 seconds remain, my hopes of victory are pretty much dashed. Determined to finish strong, I grab one of my tiniest remaining cakes, which also turns out to be red velvet, thankfully. I manage to down the whole thing just as time runs out.
In all, I finished five cupcakes in two minutes, which beat the little girl sitting next to me. It did not, however, beat Rodney Hartwig (twitter's @TheLargWhiteMan), who took down 10 cupcakes to win the competition. Hartwig donned his pink crown and proceeded to wow the crowd with his cupcake dance.
I leave the Love-In, sadly not full of the pride of victory. I am, however, full of cupcakes, and there are far worse things to be full of. Trust me