C is for Cookie

Another Friday night, another eating competition at Olde Tyme Draft and Dawgs. This time, though, it wasn't hot dogs on the line on March 7, but cookies. Now, my friend Micah has an amazing capacity for sweets. Actually, he has an amazing capacity for just about any food, but he's particularly fond of cookies. It didn't take long for a plan to hatch: convince Micah that cramming as many cookies down his gullet in 12 minutes in pursuit of the prize--$50 credit on his bar tab--was a perfect way for him to pass his weekend evening. And he fell for it! Ha ha.

But just when I thought we had this contest all wrapped up I got an email that made my heart sink a little. Micah would be facing some tough competition, in the form of two local pro-ranked competitive eaters: #35 in the world, Andrew "Skinnyboy" Lane and even more worrying, #20 Marco "Mongo" Marquez. Since Olde Tyme started hosting their semi-monthly eating competitions, with proceeds going to local charities, the local pros are coming out of the woodwork.

I wondered if Micah could gain an edge by getting some advice from a few competitive eaters. I send out some emails and the advice and encouragement poured in.

From Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston: --dunk --don't overstuff your mouth --stay one cookie ahead of the closest competitor

Pat Bertoletti, currently ranked #2 in the world, suggested bring a warm beverage, like tea, to cut the sweetness and crumb of the cookies.

Crazy Legs Conti chimed in with some more practical advice about how to leverage a bet to win money and a bar tab, and Tim "Eater X" Janus offered only, "Just make sure that your friend knows that your love for him is unconditional. It'll be a load off."

However, when a small group of us showed up on Friday night to register Micah, the other competition wasn't looking too bad. In fact, they were children. Cole, Clint, and Brandon (ages 7, 10, and 15, respectively) were looking positively giddy at the prospect of getting to eat as many cookies as possible. A woman wandering around the bar selling jewelry off a chain link gate turned out to be an entrant, too. Skinnyboy appeared and we were introduced to the infamous wall where he apparently, uh, tossed his cookies at a recent chili dog contest. After what seemed like forever, Marquez finally arrived at the bar. Turned out he'd gotten his dates mixed up and thought the contest was next Friday. He felt a little unprepared having just downed five mini canisters of Pringles and a 20 pack of Slim Jims (apparently a normal dinner when you work at Home Depot). Could this mean a surprising advantage for our guy Micah?

Tall glasses of milk and two plates of 20 cookies each were placed in front of each person. Half the cookies were chocolate chip and half were oatmeal raisin. Micah opted to stick with the chocolate chips--less chewy. Right off the bat, Micah looked good. He dipped in his hot tea; he didn't overstuff. On the other end of the table, Marquez was making quick work of his stack, and Skinnyboy was making what looked like a pile of mush. Suddenly, Micah was done with ten cookies and we all cheered; he was actually keeping pace with Marquez. Marquez must have sensed this and, pushing past his stomach full of checkout food, he surged ahead and gained a few cookie lead.

At about this point, the strategy of the mother who entered her children became clear. She was one of those parents who catch their kid smoking and force them to inhale an entire pack in the hopes of sickening them to the point of giving up cigarettes for life. The kids were all looking ill, taking small bites and and looking around wildly for some sort of escape. The mom was enjoying it: "Chew, chew, swallow!" she chanted from the sidelines.

Micah hit 15! And then he hit the wall. By this time, Marquez and Skinnyboy had both pulled far enough ahead that Micah knew he wouldn't catch up. He spent the last five minutes of the competition shaking his head and holding his stomach and watching the two leaders chow down leisurely.

With 26 1/2 cookies in 12 minutes, Marquez emerged the victor. Skinnyboy wasn't far behind at 22, and we took solace in a good third-place standing. It wasn't a bar tab, but it was something like pride. And of course, we loved him unconditionally.

Have a gut to bust and something to prove? Join the crowd this Friday for a hot dog eating competition or show your Irish pride at the corned beef and cabbage competition Monday, March 17th. You can join the Denver Eating Contest Meetup Group to receive alerts for all upcoming contests. -- Liz Kellermeyer

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Sean Cronin