As entertaining and weird as eating contests are, the nastiness involved is always below the surface. Vomiting, gross faces, intestinal discomfort--but one thing that happily never happens often is death.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened this week in the Ukraine.
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The European press is all over this tragedy, but the basic facts are such, at least according to the Guardian: 77-year-old Ivan Mendel had just eaten ten potato varenikis (Eastern European-style dumplings that originated from the Ukraine) in 30 seconds when he keeled over and died. A witness told newspapers that doctors on the scene said Mendel choked on his own vomit, a charge contest organizers strenuously deny.
And the prize Mendel had just claimed? A liter jar of sour cream--because sour cream and varenikis go as beautifully as tacos and salsa.