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Doughnut and pancake eating contests claim two lives

April 5, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The death of a 42-year-old man trying to eat an enormous supersize doughnut in less than 80 seconds has occurred within 24 hours of the death of a 20-year-old woman who collapsed during a pancake-eating contest.

The separate tragedies illustrate the dangers of competitions involving eating and drinking. Often held in an atmosphere of holiday or resort relaxation, and a magnet for tourists, such contests can have fatal consequences.

The man and woman both choked to death in separate incidents on the same day, US media reported.


Caitlin Nelson had reportedly eaten four or five pancakes during a charity benefit when she began choking and was rushed to hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She died two days later.

The male victim, Travis Malouff, choked to death in the lobby of Voodoo Doughnut in Denver, Colorado, after attempting to devour a colossal doughnut weighing about a quarter of a kilogram – the size of six regular doughnuts. The idea was to consume the doughnut in under 80 seconds – but time ran out for Malouff. By the time police and paramedics arrived it was too late.

The danger involved in eating and drinking contests was the reason the Guinness Book of World Records removed its gastronomic section from 1990 onwards.

Even so, such deaths still occur. In 2013, a man died after swiftly downing six litres of beer in a drinking contest at a Spanish festival – and shortly afterwards a man collapsed and died during a pie-eating competition in Townsville.

The pie-eating competitor was said to have exclaimed “jeez, this chilli pie is hot!”, according to the Townsville Bulletin. They were his last words.

In decades past, gastronomic records have been set by professional competitive eaters such as the celebrated “King of the Trenchermen”, Edward Abraham “Bozo” Miller, an eccentric American restaurateur who ate 27 large roast chickens one after the other at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco in 1963, to applause from awed spectators.

Miller, who died in 2008 aged 89, boasted of downing 10 to 12 martinis before lunch every day. He was also known for his ability to drink two American quarts (just under two litres) of whiskey in under an hour. His chicken-eating performance won him a USD 10,000 bet.

Such gastronomic feats have inspired imitators, sometimes with fatal results.

Not all eating competitions involve consuming normal food or beverages.

In 2012, Edward Archbold, 32, died shortly after devouring dozens of live cockroaches during a South Florida insect-eating contest. It was when Archibald began eating handfuls of live worms that paroxysm set in, followed by sudden death.

Written by Peter Needham

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