I’ve long admired competitive eaters. A human with the fortitude to suck down 76 hot dogs and/or a seven-pound burrito is someone to be respected—nay, revered. I can appreciate the way competitive eating pushes the body to its limits, but I think I have to draw the line somewhere. That line is the World Slopper Eating Championship, which takes place at the Colorado State Fair next week.
What, pray, is a slopper? Per the Major League Eating (MLE) blog, it’s a staple dish in Pueblo, Colorado, the town that houses the state fairgrounds. A slopper is essentially an open-faced cheeseburger featuring a quarter pound of Colorado beef “lovingly smothered—slopped, more accurately—in delicious green chili,” Major League Eating writes. The MLE blog calls sloppers “delicious,” but stipulates that they are best enjoyed at a recreational pace and in appropriate civilian quantities.” The organization also notes that a slopper pairs well with “any moderately priced domestic lager.”
Sounds nice, right? Sounds like a perfectly tasty thing to eat. But the World Slopper Eating Championship isn’t about having a nice time. It’s about pain, as evidenced by last year’s record: 37.5 sloppers consumed in eight minutes. That’s 37.5 sloppers containing a quarter pound of beef each. That’s almost 10 pounds of beef, y’all.
Last year’s champion title went to Geoffrey Esper, the second-ranked competitive eater in the world. (Esper beat out hot dog legend Joey Chestnut for the title.) “Esper was relentless at the table on that day, a vision of rhythm,” Major League Eating writes. “It was, they said, an almost zen-like display of control over the slopper.” But if you look at this news clip from Colorado Springs news source KRDO, you’ll see that there’s nothing zen about the slopper extravaganza.
Even worse, this year’s competition is scheduled for September 4, which is my birthday. How am I supposed to enjoy my annual birthday lemon tart knowing that, just a few states away, legions of men and women are bent over a plastic table, cramming chili-soaked beef down their throats while groaning in agony? How am I to celebrate my own birth as brave solders fall victim to the slopper’s slippery, beefy trap? I don’t know. But my question for you is this: is the World Slopper Eating Championship the most disquieting eating contest the Earth has ever seen? Let’s discuss.