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Sunday, July 12, 2009

[Special Event] Bacci Pizza Fest Vol. 7

On Saturday, Bacci Pizzeria, the 13-year-old, 19-restaurant jumbo slice purveyor, held its 7th Annual Pizza Fest, an eating competition where the contestants wolf down as many Bacci cheese slices as they can in 20 minutes. A couple of CPC members headed down to Taylor Street to view the competition.

While the event was not sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, the cash prizes were actually more generous that some of that organization's events. The winner of the Pizza Fest was due $1,500, while the second and third place finishers would claim $750 and $250 respectively.

In order to qualify for the competition, all one had to do was go to a Bacci Pizzeria, buy two jumbo slices and get one free, and then eat all three slices in less than 20 minutes. Approximately 30 people made the cut and showed up for the competition.

With obnoxiously loud dance music being played in the background, the contestants all began the competition with a vengeance, stuffing as much in their mouths as fast as they could. It seemed that there were as many strategies as there were eaters; some folded, some stacked, some ripped their pizzas into bite sized chunks, and one guy even dipped his slices into a large cup of what looked like Kool-Aid, but may have been water colored by tomato sauce. An EMT stood by to make sure none of the overly exuberant eaters hurt themselves.

After just a few minutes of competition, it was clear that a majority of people had no change as they slowed considerably before getting through their first slice. But to my eyes, about 10 people were keeping up with one another for at least the first half of the competition. As the eating continued, the chewing slowed but people continued to give their all.

At the end, there was a clear winner - a guy named Peter, the man who dipped his slices in liquid, had polished off 5 1/2 slices, blowing away the competition. Surprisingly, he was not one of the particularly large contestants. However, there were three very big men who had each eaten exactly four slices, so a one-minute eat-off was called. Those three struggled mightily but at the end of the minute, the final two winners were set, each having gotten through less than half of a slice.

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