BACON EATING CONTEST: Chef Mark DesLauriers prepares bacon at Atwood's Tavern kitchen before the bacon-eating contest. He cooked total of 40 pounds of bacon.
It’s high noon on Saturday at Atwood’s Tavern, a dark cozy pub in east Cambridge, and there’s not one seat unoccupied. Is their new brunch menu this good? Well, yes, but today is also the very first Atwood’s Tavern Bacon Eating Contest. Apparently, people love the chance to see a bit of public vomiting on their days off. The contestants consist of six girls, four guys, and 30 pounds of donated North Country Apple Smoked Bacon. (I now throw up a little in my mouth just typing the word “bacon.”)
I craftily slip into my GIRLS DIG BACON T-shirt and decide to mingle. I come across a fellow competitor, Jim Stanton, and ask if he thinks he’ll win. His response: “I don’t think anyone, man, woman, or beast could take me today.” Cocky little sucker.
Before the contest can begin, each contestant must sign an “If I Die Today My Family Won’t Sue You” form and choose a nickname. I draw a blank, so Liam, the emcee for the event, dubs me Coco.
As I gaze upon the playing field . . . er, feeding area, I notice 10 strategically placed puke buckets with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in each. Liam taps the microphone and the games begin. We’re called up individually, and the crowd screams support for their friends. When we’re all on the feeding bench, the crowd squishes in and I see bobbing heads from the back attempting to catch the action. Twenty ounces of bacon are placed in front of each of us, along with a glass of water. “You’ve got five minutes!” Liam yells. Deep breath. Ready, set, go!
The first few pieces aren’t too difficult: thick, chewy, and salty. All good bacon qualities. The crowd is cheering wildly and becomes thoroughly engrossed with Chicago Shaw, the girl to my left. She’s a troubling sight, maniacally tearing the bacon into pieces, stuffing them into her already full mouth while dipping her head from left to right like a wild animal. Focus, Micah.
By the fifth piece, my jaw aches terribly. So I decide to stop chewing. Instead, I begin drinking the bacon with the help of my glass of water. Six more pieces are instantly gone with hardly any chewing.
Soon enough, the five minutes are up and the chef, Mark DesLauriers, weighs each plate. Way ahead of the pack, Mr. Stanton wins, having consumed a whopping 6.5 ounces of bacon. I, on the other hand, take last place. So, while Mr. Stanton walks away with five pounds of free bacon, I walk away with a 12-ounce container of Bac-Os. Who’s the real winner, Jim?