Competitive Eaters Do it for 5 Minutes, Stink For Days 

Competitive Eaters Do It For 5 Minutes, Stink For Days

Take it from me: Participating in a pickled egg-eating contest is easy. All you have to do is chew, swallow and stare vacantly at the ceiling whenever you think you're about to spew. Participating in such a contest repeatedly is the real challenge, as it involves not only chewing and swallowing, but also remembering and shuddering.

'Twas all the more impressive, then, when last Saturday, Boise electrician Eric Schroeder tossed down 17 bright-yellow orbs in five minutes to win his third Stubs Sports Pub's King of the Pickled Egg Eaters title in four years. Actually, depending on which interpretation you take of the great egg scandal of aught-five, Schroeder may have three-and-a-half victories in his carton. That year, contest newcomer Tyler Bolken downed a record 25 eggs but then emptied his gullet onto Stubs' patio with just seconds of the traditional 20-minute gotta-keep-em-down period remaining. Schroeder and Terry Mattee of Boise both held their respective 20 eggs for long enough, but Bolken's name was nevertheless carved on the pub's plaque. Stubs founder and co-owner Steve Lipkin mentioned the scandal briefly to this year's eight competitors, who included Mattee, unrivaled five-time participant Stick Carlson of Meridian, and for a third time, yours truly. Both Mattee and Schroeder grumbled when asked about '05, but Lipkin was content to limit his discussion of Bolken's legend to his technique ("He was basically swallowing them whole") and his vomitous volume ("It was totally [Monty Python's] Meaning of Life").

Thankfully, no one imitated Krakatoa in Technicolor this year. Schroeder's technique was so effective, in fact, that he was able to down one additional egg after time ran out, which is his signature sign-off. The winner attributed his prowess to an ability to enter a Zen-like state during the contest, but he admitted that over the 24 hours following each contest his spiritual and digestive resolve are seriously tested. "That Zen stuff I mentioned? I lose all of it," Schroeder said after packing his lip with chewing tobacco. A $100 gift certificate from Stubs will be a fitting send-off, as Schroeder said this year's contest was his last. Mattee earned $75 for second place, overcoming what he felt was an extra-spicy and extra-dry batch of eggs, and Brad Craven won a $50 bar tab for third place. For my part, after an honorable fifth-place finish for 10-and-a-half eggs in 2004, a Mister Congeniality-sized portion of six eggs in '05 and a deliberate no-show last year, I nibbled pathetically through five eggs en route to a seventh-place finish. The only competitor below me was the five-timer, Carlson, who ate one egg and then just left the table.

"Just like John Kruk--gotta get that single," Carlson said, referring to the former Major League first baseman who famously walked off of the field and retired after getting his final hit in 1995. :

Stubs Sports Pub, 12505 Chinden Blvd., 208-378-8273, and 3662 Findley Ave. (off Federal Way), 208-336-7882.

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