Middleswarth chip eating contest draws crowd in Exeter, donates to charity
EXETER — The salty crumbs adorning the shirts of contestants and the exhausted expressions of eaters who put their stomachs to the test were signs of a battle well fought at the second Middleswarth Chip Eating Contest.
The competition, held by Northeast Snacks, took place at Sabatini’s Bottle Shop, Nov. 26, and 20 eager chip eaters consumed hefty quantities of Middleswarth chips in five minutes while being cheered on by a crowd of roughly 30 spectators.
A large table was set with two 10 ounce bags of chips for each contestant — competitors were allowed to choose between original and barbecue flavors — and bottles of water and complimentary T-shirts were provided.
Competitors arrived early to settle in and pay their entry fees. A portion of the money raised was donated to Candy’s Place Center for Cancer Wellness in Forty Fort.
Northeast Snacks owner Albert Martino said he hosts the chip eating contest to do something fun that also benefits a good cause.
“People around here are passionate about Middleswarth chips,” Martino said. “I’m a competitive person, and I’ve argued with friends over who can eat more Middleswarth. We’re giving people a chance to put their chips where their mouths are.”
Ray Hebden, of Greenfield Township, entered the contest as a Weekender sponsored competitor. Hebden was selected after a friend of his submitted an application on his behalf.
“A guy I work with wrote in, because I always tell people about Middlewarth chips,” Hebden said. “We take them to family members who live out of the area. When I got the call I was surprised, but once my kids and co-workers found out I was selected, I figured I’d do it for them.”
Geoff Baumes, of Hughestown, said he loves Middleswarth chips and wanted to do his part in making Pennsylvania great again.
“I’m very excited to compete,” Baumes said. “As long as I don’t get cut or poked by any rogue chips, it should be a good showing.”
Marketing and communications representative for Candy’s Place, Melanie Socash, said events like the chip eating contest help introduce the non-profit organization to members of the greater community.
“It’s really great that people do these fundraisers for us,” Socash said. “It helps spread awareness. I’m sure some of these people hadn’t heard of Candy’s Place, but when they came to this event, they became acquainted with our organization.”
Five minutes went quickly on the competition clock while competitors took various approaches at consuming chips. Some went for the shovel approach — downing handfuls — while others ate a few chips at a time, but the result was a hailstorm of chip fragments and an excited crowd of friends and family.
The victor was determined by weighing the chips left in each competitor’s bag, or bags if he or she had the stomach for more than one.
Dan Kennedy, of West Decatur took home the trophy, the title of Chip Champ and a $25 gift certificate to Northeast Snacks while Baumes finished in second place, a mere ounce and change behind Kennedy.
“I’m not new to competitive eating,” Kennedy said after the competition. “I’ve done burgers; I’ve done 13 pound pizzas with a teammate. A good strategy is to get it down fast and don’t stop.”
Martino said he hopes the contest will grow on a yearly basis to attract more people and raise more money for local charities.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts