Monday, July 23, 2007

It's ridiculous. And disgusting. (says you!)

Apparently, the Bratwurst Capital of America has suddenly gotten this urge to change its image and be more, um, health-conscious. Because the professional brat-eating contest held in Sheboygan the past couple years has been nixed from this year’s list of activities.

The people at Johnsonville Sausage, the main sponsor of the popular Brat Days event held in Sheboygan in early August, declined to say why it would no longer sponsor the brat-eating contest, but it’s certain that criticism from city residents weighed heavily on this decision.

Several citizens opposed to the contest called it a disgusting event that promoted gluttony, and reflected poorly on the city.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the bratwurst has ever been mistaken for a bran muffin in terms of leading the health food revolution.

It's a pretty simple concept: if the idea of seeing several dozen brats consumed in a handful of minutes doesn't appeal to you, then don't go to the park that day, and don't turn on ESPN during the broadcast. Is that difficult?

The amateur brat-eating contest, which has been going on for more than 50 years, will continue to be held. This kind of logic leads me to believe that if you’re a slow glutton, then it’s OK. But if you’re a big enough glutton that you can make a living at it and bring national attention to yourself, then you’re disgusting.

Incidentally, the winner in 2005 was a 105-pound woman, and last year’s champion was wildly popular professional eater, Takeru Kobayashi, who has muscles on top of his muscles, he’s so ripped. Two prime examples of gluttons if ever there were any.

The professional contest last year drew thousands of fans, and camera crews from ESPN, which broadcast the event on its network. I doubt that the amateurs will create such a buzz.

I was in the crowd last year, among the boom cameras and broadcasters for the worldwide leader in sports, and my opinion is that any exposure that brings that much good-natured attention to little old Sheboygan, Wisconsin, can only be a positive thing.

The president of the International Federation of Competitive Eating expressed his surprise and disappointment that the event had been pulled, saying it would have been a big draw and they would have loved to have been there.

Earlier this month, longtime champion Kobayashi was upset by American eater Joey Chestnut in the most famous contest on the IFOCE slate, the Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest in Coney Island, New York, when Chestnut downed 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes to Kobayashi’s 63.

The brats would have provided a great stage for a rematch.

A retired city attorney from Sheboygan was one of the most vocal and outspoken critics of the event, saying that when someone downs 58 brats in 10 minutes, which was last year’s winning mark, it proves the whole thing is ridiculous.

Nothing like a good *burp!* meal.
Ridiculous? It’s competitive eating!! Of course it’s ridiculous! These are people who eat mayonnaise and oysters and jalapeƱo peppers for kicks. And, for a paycheck.

But after the contest was over last year and the thrill of the ESPN cameras panning the crowd had died down, the crowd dispersed and enjoyed a brat or two themselves, along with some beverages. (I won’t say what kind of beverages, or it might give people across the nation the impression that folks from Wisconsin like to drink beer.)

I spent the rest of the day with family and friends on the Brat Days grounds, riding a few rides with my nephews, playing a few games and listening to music, having one of the most enjoyable days of my summer.

This year, Johnsonville will not sell me any food and beverage tickets at Brat Days, because I won’t be there. (which kinda stings a little, because the musical entertainment on Saturday night is Soul Asylum, a band I'd very much enjoy seeing for such a reasonable admission cost.) And I doubt ESPN will show up, either.

I have a feeling I'll be a big fan of Cher-Make brats for a while. And Usinger's. Or maybe I'll go on a sudden health food kick.

Brats and beer, people. gotta dance with the girl that brung ya, you know?

(I bet the Sheboygan critics will next try to get the seventh-inning stretch removed from baseball. Or Santa fired from Christmas.)

“No man in the world has more courage
than the man who can stop eating
after one peanut.”
—Channing Pollock


  1. I would just like to point out two things. One- you suck. Two-there is no way in helvetica that you published at 9:49, unless we're talking about Hawaiian time. Three- yes, I meant three. The word verification I got below was "vbabe" apropos

  2. And another thing...PEOPLE, you people out there in blogland: The ONLY reason this post is here today and not a week or month from now, is because of ME. Thank you, that is all.

  3. What do you put on your brats? It astounded me to discover that the brat-eaters of the midwest are so passionate as to what is an acceptable condiment. Personally, all I need is ketchup. But some brat-eaters feel that ketchup is an absolute blasphemy when it comes to brats. They will chide you, insult you, put you down... I'm not joking about this. I'm 100% serious.

    Um... why?

    I don't know. But this sort of dynamic does exist. Strange though that those anti-ketchup brat consumers are fine with mustard, relish, sauerkraut or anything else. But ketchup? NEVER!

    I don't get it. Leave me and my ketchup-covered brats alone. Brats are just like hot dogs - just bigger, fatter, and spicier. There is nothing wrong with ketchup on them!

  4. I've heard and read about the great ketchup-on-brats debate, too. Many people believe that the first condiment to reach for when eating brats is mustard.

    I am not one of those many people.

    My ideal brat has ketchup, mustard and kraut.

    But if I have to pick only one condiment to eat with my Usinger's or Cher-Make or anything-but-Johnsonville brat (it's hell boycotting such a good sausage)...I'll choose ketchup first, every time.

    (I may be a bit biased, however. I'm a ketchup junkie.)