It was just this weekend that Joey "Jaws" Chestnut—the greatest competitive eater of our time, and possibly all time—slugged down 70 dogs and buns (HDB) in ten minutes on his way to a record ninth title at the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. But while participants in the Nathan's event were busy cramming their faces with all-beef dogs, those who will head to Buffalo for a new addition to the Major League Eating calendar this weekend will be in for something else entirely: kale.
Several top eaters will convene at Taste of Buffalo on July 9 to see who can power down the most kale in eight minutes in what organizers are calling the "World's Healthiest Eating Championship." The contest, called Kale Yeah!, will serve raw mature kale stripped from its stem, chopped, and drizzled with a light vinaigrette—none of that cooked, easy-to-digest stuff. Whoever downs the most kale will take home $2,000 from a total of $4,000 in prize money that will be awarded.
"Let it not be said that Major League Eating has shirked its responsibilities when it comes to highlighting the wonders of the vegetable kingdom," Major League Eating wrote in a post on its website. "For the first time in human history, the world's greatest eaters will test themselves against the almighty kale—the leafy green vegetable that has captured the hearts and minds of both the culinary set and those for whom their body is a temple."
Vying for the top spot will be Crazy Legs Conti, a man ranked 22nd in the world by Major League Eating who once ate 459 oysters during an episode of the David Letterman Show, and "Buffalo" Jim Reeves, ranked 20th and the world watermelon-eating champion.
The event is hosted by the Independent Health Healthy Options program, which works to offer healthy options at restaurants and food trucks in western New York. Taste of Buffalo features many foods that don't land in the healthy category, like ice cream and Buffalo wings—stuff some of the competitive eaters are more familiar with—so the contest will draw some attention away from indulgent fair food.
"For civilian eaters, kale is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin E and several dietary minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus," Major League Eating said. "For Major League Eaters, kale also becomes a great source of prize money and a source of glory."
Competitive eaters are no doubt used to the bodily ramifications that come from eating massive quantities of foods like eggs or baked beans. Kale should come with some interesting consequences; for instance, expect the wind to be a-blowin' up on stage. Best of luck to all the contestants, who, whether they win or lose, will get a monster dose of vitamin K and an increased risk of kidney stones.