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Jargon of the competitive eating world. Also many terms appear in a broader culture, but are commonly used within competitive eating. For me personally, Man v. Food‘s Adam Richman introduced many new terms to me. So competitive eating helped popularise them perhaps? The Shea brothers who run MLE

AICE – Association of Independent Competitive Eaters. A U.S. competitive eating organisation, smaller than the IFOCE. They aim to create a niche in the market by emphasising their donations to charity, and “clean eating” where food must be eaten as-is and not mashed or dunked in water, etc.

challenge – as distinct from “competition”, a challenge most often refers to a solo endeavour offered by a restaurant, to eat a set meal within a certain time frame. There are also home-style challenges like the “gallon challenge”

chipmunking – the act of stuffing a large amount of food into your mouth during the dying seconds of a time-based competition, making your cheeks stick out like a chipmunk. When time’s up, competitors should step back from / not touch the food, and swallow this remaining mouthful. More formal or organised competitions often state whether or not the practice is allowed. In MLE events there is apparently a limit of a minute or so to then swallow the food (it cannot be spat out). But typically in the more casual Australian events there is no stated limit. For restaurant challenges (no other competitors) it seems you always get away with it.

competition – as distinct from “challenge”, a competition most often refers to a live race against other competitors, either the first to finish a set meal, or the most food consumed within a set time limit. OnĀ  Man v, these are categorised under “Events”.

contest – see “competition”.

dunking – dipping food in water to swallow it faster, particularly bread. Bread is dry and difficult to eat quickly, so in hot dog competitions particularly, dunking makes a huge difference. However this may be considered poor form in some settings.

eater – competitive eater

flavour fatigue – tiring of one particular flavour after eating a lot of it in one sitting. In Man v. Food, Richman sometimes asked for a side dish of bacon, especially for sweet challenges like ice cream.

food coma – sleepiness after eating a large amount

food porn – “food is the new porn” someone has said recently. This term is much broader than competitive eating. It’s common for people to post numerous pictures of their meals on Facebook etc., sometimes to the chagrin of their peers :)

gallon challenge – to drink a gallon (3.8L) of milk in an hour, and keep it down. This is perhaps the best known do-it-yourself home style challenge. It is difficult because milk is slow to empty from your stomach (in constrast to water, say), and few people have a stomach capacity that big. Joey Chestnut can do it in under a minute, Miki Sudo did it then bungee jumped without disaster, and Pat Bertoletti has managed a double gallon!

gurgitator – poetic name for competitive eater, probably invented by the Sheas or a U.S. reporter

horsemen of the esophagus – a poetic or rhetorical term for competitive eaters, invented by the Sheas. Also the title of a book by Jason Fagone 

IFOCE – International Federation of Competitive Eating. This is a large U.S. organisation run by the Shea brothers. It holds close to 100 events a year, with lucrative prize money and attracts stiff competition. Eaters actually sign strict contracts with them.

MLE – Major League Eating. A brand name of the IFOCE.

reversal – euphemism for vomiting, and usually results in disqualification, and sometimes a fee for restaurant challenges. The Sheas would say “reversal of fortune”

water training – drinking a large amount of water in a short time to increase stomach capacity or expansion rate. A cautious recommendation would be to not do it, or consult your doctor. Competitive eaters have recommended that for more than 2 or 3 litres, add electrolytes to avoid hyponatremia or “water intoxication”, which can be fatal.

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