This is a competition that frankly isn’t that pleasant to watch. Food intake at a high rate of speed generally results in messy faces and clothing along with food all over the floor and immediate surroundings. Groans and exclamations of “eeww” and “gross” can be heard with frequency.
Yet, like every year, the fans of the World Pumpkin Pie-Eating Contest at Elk Grove’s Giant Pumpkin Festival will cheer on the competitors, no matter what the scene at Elk Grove Regional Park looks like.
On Oct. 8, the professional eaters were sitting right alongside a handful of community “eaters” who gulped down the pumpkin pie provided them in a span of eight minutes until, frankly, they could eat no more.
“When they said I had 90 seconds, I couldn’t put any more in my mouth,” defending amateur champion Dan Davis laughed. “I was done.”
The football coach at Laguna Creek High School, he was “eating” for a $350 donation for his players and the Cardinals’ program. On Sunday, he gulped down three-and-one-quarter pounds of pie.
“I am a fan of Thanksgiving, so I just went in like it was Thanksgiving, but just pie,” he said.
But, this year Davis lost his championship by just one-quarter of a pound to Elk Grove Crime Prevention Officer Kristina Ramirez.
“I just like to eat and when the opportunity was presented, I decided to volunteer,” she said.
This was Ramirez’ rookie attempt at an eating competition. Not certain exactly what to expect she didn’t eat at all Sunday.
“Oh, I had to have my cup of coffee in the morning,” she said.
After a good high-impact workout, Ramirez felt ready to take on all “eaters.”
“All I really wanted to do was beat the fire department,” she said.
That she did as Cosumnes Fire’s Nick Flores could only consume 1.75 pounds of pie. She also outdistanced CSD Board of Directors’ president Rod Brewer by a pound.
“You really don’t taste the food,” Ramirez said. “You’re all concerned with eating and eating, drinking water between bites.”
However, she and Davis both commented that initially the pie really was tasty and that helped. Ramirez, perhaps to avoid a bit of embarrassment, didn’t tell most of her family she was entered into the contest. She did bring 8-year-old daughter Eva with her as moral support.
“They started seeing my pictures all over Facebook and they thought it was hilarious,” Ramirez said.
Now, she’s a bit of a hero with her family.
The $350 she won was for a very important cause to her, End of Watch, a nonprofit that supports families of law enforcement officers should they pass away in the line of duty.
Though she feels a bit of accomplishment by winning the amateur division of the contest, Ramirez now holds the professional eaters with high regard. Nearby her Sunday, Geoffrey Esper, the No. 4-ranked professional eater, gulped down a whopping 15.75 pounds of pie, almost five times her consumption.
“They were amazing,” Ramirez said. “The shape they were in and how much they can consume.”
Will she return next season to defend her title?
“If that option is given me, then, yes,” Ramirez said. “It was all in fun and for the community and I really did have a good time.”