If you’re a fan of eating as sport, or perhaps spectacle, New Orleans has a full plate in store for you this season.

Major League Eating, the sanctioning body that monitors these feats and records, has two events coming to town. One perennial showstopper returns June 2 with the Acme Oyster Eating World Championship, and a new one debuts July 14 with the inaugural Fat Boy’s Pizza Eating Championship.

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Mia 'Meatballz' Davekos of Danvers, Maine, right, and other contestants dig in during the Acme Oyster House World Oyster Eating Championship Sunday, June 3, 2018, at Woldenberg Riverfront Park in New Orleans. 

A third contest closely tied to Louisiana takes place 200 miles down the coast at the Flora-Bama bar, which will host the Rouses Crawfish Eating World Championship on June 2, starting at 1 p.m. (current record: 6.5 pounds in 10 minutes, owned by Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, and yes, competitors have to peel their own).

Just contemplating the volumes of food involved, and the rapid time of dispatch, might be enough to make some push back from the table already. The pros, however, are undaunted, rising to the occasion and able to keep it all down. Here’s the skinny:

The acme of oyster eating

Part of the New Orleans Oyster Festival, held June 1 and 2 along the riverfront in Woldenberg Park, the Acme Oyster Eating World Championship sees bivalves dispatched by the dozen.

Last year, Darren Breeden of Orange, Virginia, won the Acme Belt of Oyster Eating Greatness (a highly flexible garment) by eating 40 dozen raw oysters in eight minutes (that’s 480 oysters in all, for those calculating the tally, or five dozen per minute). He returns this year to defend the title at this Major League Eating event.

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Michelle Lesco of Tuscon, Ariz. wins the Acme Oyster House World Oyster Eating Championship by downing 33 dozen raw oysters Sunday, June 4, 2017, during the New Orleans Oyster Festival at Woldenberg Park. Lesco won first place; Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va., second; and Adrian Morgan of New Orleans, third. The two-day event featured oysters and other seafood, music, crafts, cooking demonstrations and oyster contests.

Louisiana native Adrian Morgan, who won in 2016 by downing 44 dozen oysters, looks to be a major challenger, along with the 2017 champ, Michelle Lesco of Tuscon, Arizona, “Crazy Legs” Conti of New York, the 2002 winner, and Adam Moran, a professional eater from the United Kingdom flying in to compete.

The league office has taken note of the talent coalescing around the oyster bar for this one.

“Having Breeden, Morgan and Lesco facing off at Acme is like having Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers competing in the Super Bowl,” said Richard Shea, president of Major League Eating. “Only that could never happen. It would be ridiculous to have three teams in the Super Bowl. The coin flip would be a disaster.” 

The competition is scheduled for June 2 at noon on the main stage of the Oyster Festival.

Fat Boy's gets a "pizza" the action

Fat Boy's Pizza (2565 Metairie Road, 504-345-2182) in Old Metairie has a standing challenge to its customers, daring them to try to beat the time record for devouring one of its specialty two-foot pizza slices.

In July, though, a pro will be in town to take on different stakes at the Old Metairie pizzeria.

Joey Chestnut, a Major League Eating champion best known for his records with hot  dogs, is slated for a July 14 visit to the pizzeria. He and a slate of local competitors will vie to see how many two-foot slices they can down in 10 minutes.

Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan

Joey Chestnut, center at the Hooter’s World Wing Eating Championship in 2014, with Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan, left.

Fat Boy’s Pizza, which opened in February, makes big pizza. The large pies measure 30 inches across. Picture the spare tire on back of a Jeep and you get an idea of the scale.

Fat Boy’s founder Gabe Corchiani is the sporting type. He is a legend of University of New Orleans athletics from his days on the Privateers basketball team.

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The "2 Ft. Challenge" at Fat Boy's Pizza is a beat-the-clock contest to eat a huge slice of pizza at the Metairie restaurant.

So in addition to the normally huge pizza, Fat Boy's also makes a super slice dubbed the “2 Ft. Challenge.” Measuring 24-inches from crust to tip, this slice is served as part of a beat-the-clock food dare, with prizes for those who can finish it in less than seven minutes.

The July 14, with its different format (based on the number of slices consumed rather than the time to eat one) will be an officially sanctioned Major League Eating event. The day will include a performance by Bag of Donuts and games and activities for kids.


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.