Editor's note: In early March we first told you about the release of Major League Eating, the videogame. Last week, we asked our friend Ben Brown, the internet rockstar, if he'd attend the press event for us in San Francisco to check out the game. —Adam K.
Tim Janus is a world champion competitive eater. His professional name is "Eater X," and he paints his face like a super hero when he appears at public "gurgitation events." You may also know him as the man who spearheaded the "alternative beverage movement" within the competitive eating community (using lemonade instead of water as a hot dog chaser). And now, thanks to a new videogame coming out in May for the Nintendo Wii, Janus has achieved what millions of slightly overweight manboys have dreamt about since their tweens: He's become a videogame character.
Major League Eating is the official videogame of the Major League Eating organization, which makes up and enforces the rules for competitive-eating events and oversees them. The Wii game, which will be available on the new WiiWare game download system soon, involves players—surprise, surprise—eating pizza, hot dogs, and a variety of other food as fast as they can.
Food is consumed by waggling the Wiimote controller up and down, as if the player were actually eating. There are power-ups that make you burp a cloud of toxic gas at your competitor. I am reasonably sure there is a "flaming fart" option. There is definitely vomiting, virtual, and otherwise.
Eater X was flown to San Francisco for the press event last Friday for Major League Eating so that he could stand in front of his virtual twin and smile, but also so that he could set the world record for speed eating sushi. No record had previously been set, simply because no one had ever cared enough to count. The clock was set at 6 minutes, and Janus began to eat. He did not chew. He did not gag. He simply shoveled pieces of plain-looking avocado roll into his mouth, one after another, for 6 minutes.
Eater X, Speed Eating Sushi
In the end, Eater X consumed 141 pieces of sushi in six minutes; 23.5 pieces a minute, or about 0.4 pieces a second. It was disgusting but fascinating to watch.
Moments after the record had been set, I got a chance to speak to the new champion. Having sampled just 3 pieces of the not-so-great sushi myself, I wanted to know if perhaps quantity was more important than quality.
"After a while," he said, "you don't taste it so much." He paused for a moment, and I thought to myself that he might be regretting what he'd just done, in either a spiritual or gastrointestinal sense. But I was wrong. He just had a bit of gas. "It's just fun to see how fast you can go," he continued.
I chose to interpret this as sort of melancholy statement about life in general—Eater X's little nugget of wisdom for the ages. Chewing is passe. Kill your gag reflex. Speed over flavor.
Doesn't sound very good to me, but it would be worth it for the power-ups.