WRAL.com at the State Fair

A Sandwich Is a Sandwich ...

Posted October 13, 2005

... but 31 sandwiches is a world record. I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though -- there won't need to be any world records set at the Grilled Cheese Eating Championship next Monday for it to be a spectacle. The chowing-down begins on Monday, September 17, at the Grandstand. Contestants compete to see how many grilled cheese sandwiches they can eat in ten minutes.

(Though I was expecting some exhaustive details and specifications about competition-class cheese sandwiches, the sandwiches are actually just "classic grilled cheese" -- two slices of white bread and two slices of American cheese. I was looking forward to a quarter-inch-thick book inscribed SANDWICH SPECIFICATIONS.)

This event isn't just a couple dozen guys and gals getting together and plowing through some sammiches. Nancy Goldstein, a spokesperson for the IFOCE, set me straight about that. The IFOCE. You know -- the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

In fact the event at the Fair is going to be one of 15 regional contests. The winner of each contest will participate in the grilled cheese eating championship, the date and location for which has not been determined. The prizes however have been decided -- over $20,000 in prizes will be distributed at the championship.

The Fair event will feature both local talent and "circuit eaters" including Jammin' Joe LaRue, who's currently ranked 14th at the IFOCE site and is the sweet corn eating world champ.

If you look at the IFOCE site, you'll see that there are contests for many different kinds of foods, including butter (!), cow brains (!!), spam (!!!), and Turducken (!!!!). Against that array of oddness, why the humble grilled cheese sandwich?

Nancy Goldstein informed me that the grilled cheese contest was in honor of a cheese sandwich purchased by GoldenPalace.com. The sandwich was purchased on eBay. It is claimed that on its burnt surface one can see a religious icon. The $28,000, ten-year-old sandwich will be touring with the contest.

The current world record for eating grilled cheese sandwiches is 31 in ten minutes, which was set at the Nebraska State Fair less than two months ago. Can Carolina speed-eaters overcome the record of their western rivals? Results on Tuesday!

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