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The latest food trend to hit the UK is hard to swallow.

Ms. Shutkever – The West Midlands' Mighty Masticator

There’s nothing quite like watching people force food down their throats, is there? Nothing to compare to that thrill of seeing someone cram in dozens of chicken nuggets, chewing each one just a couple of times and swilling it all down with water. Or how about that buzz you get from observing a chap picking up fried eggs with his bare hands, slurping them up into his mouth and dribbling the yoke into his beard? I am speaking in jest, of course. (In-gest… did you catch that one?) The latest trend in the UK for competitive eating may make one’s jaw drop, but I’m not sure it’s something we can admire.

If you’re not familiar with the sport, competitive eating takes various forms, nearly all of which avoid cutlery. There are things like hotdog eating contests in which you have to eat as many hotdogs as you can within a given time against dozens of competitors; and then there are more personal events where it’s just you against a mighty challenge set by a restaurant. It might be to eat a cooked breakfast that’s treble the normal size in thirty minutes, or to take down a twenty-six inch pizza single-handed. You typically get the meal free if you’re successful, along with a winner’s t-shirt. You might even get your photo on the restaurant’s wall of fame. And, as with all sports, you’ll find both amateurs and professionals.

Yes, there are now professional eaters! People like Leah Shutkever of the West Midlands, who studied architecture but ditched it all to become Europe’s No.1 female competitive eater and now holds 27 Guinness world records; or there’s Yorkshireman Adam Moran, better known as “Beard Meats Food”, who is ranked 15th in the world and left his corporate job to wolf down food professionally. Much of the income of professionals like these is not from competition winnings but from YouTube and social media. They roam the country taking on challenges in eateries large and small, filming every moment of their gastronomic exploits. And it seems that spectators will tune in by the million to watch their antics. Leah Shutkever even appeared on ITV’s “This Morning” last year, demolishing chicken nuggets while the nation ate its Weetabix....

Read the complete article at Menswear Style, an online men's fashion and lifestyle magazine and one of the leading digital publications in the UK.

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