To preface this, I’m really good at eating. I often get asked how I’m able to eat the staggering amount of food I regularly stomach.
This trait made me feel I could easily take on Bagel Street Deli’s annual Pickle Fest competition. But I was proven wrong, and my body is still suffering from it.
The premise of Pickle Fest is simple: Competitors get put in a heat and have 10 minutes to eat as many jumbo pickles they possibly can. If a person throws up — or as the Bagel Street employees call it, “makes relish” — that person is disqualified. The winner chooses a charity that the money raised from the event benefits and also creates a sandwich to be permanently added to the menu at 27 S. Court St. Frankly, the stakes are high, and I needed to win more than anything.
I was put in the second heat and watched the winner of the first heat down eight pickles. I thought I could easily beat that, and I had been training my body for the event. I knew I was going to use the tried and true corn-on-the-cob technique in which I would eat the outside of the pickle like a corn cob and down the center part. I drank water all day to stretch my stomach and downed an antacid before it was my turn to save my stomach from dissolving from all of the vinegar I was ingesting.
Each competitor chooses a name, and, being the Jersey Shore superfan I am, I obviously went with Snooki. I sat down next to my two friends with a basket of four pickles in front of me.
The competition started, and I knew I was in too deep. I took my first few bites, and I was covered with pickle juice. I seemed to be the only person who was literally drenched, which confused me and stifled my competitive edge. My friends were cheering my name, but I knew they were going to be disappointed with my performance. After the first three minutes, my new goal became not to need to use the bucket at my feet in case I needed to make relish.
If I were to participate again, I would take smaller bites. I made the mistake of taking huge bites and not realizing how long it would take me to chew all of the cucumber bits in my mouth. When I was only on my third and the frontrunners were hitting their sixth pickles, I knew it was over. I ended up eating four, which wasn’t bad but definitely wasn’t good. I got over being sad about not winning, but I felt like I brought shame to Snooki’s name.
The aftermath was even worse. My stomach has felt like a rock all weekend. My teeth still hurt from all the vinegar, and I haven’t been able to chew anything or brush my teeth without being in horrible pain. The worst part is that I'm completely turned off by pickles, which were previously one of my favorite foods. It will probably be a short-term problem — because I really don’t hate any food — but it’s still sad.
If you’re thinking about participating next year, I would suggest doing some serious training now so you can crush the competition. Also, be ready to hate yourself for at least three days. The experience taught me I'm really not as good at eating as I thought, but long live Pickle Fest.