Behind the counter of every Taco Bell, there's a slew of people who fancy themselves champions of food, but once a year in Lewisville, the real champions arrive, ready to relieve suburban Dallas of its tamale population.
Last Saturday was yet another such occasion, with a healthy roster of new Texas-bred competitive eating talent up against a handful of Major League Eating stars at Lewisville's Western Days festival.
This was the contest's seventh year -- a lifetime in the short history of pro eating -- and the Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory, which prepped the competition food in previous contests, was replaced this year by Angelina's, in The Colony.
"Diamond" Dave Keating was back again this year as emcee, as was former Observer cover boy "Nasty" Nate Biller, now the sport's 23-ranked eater. Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan returned to the tamale table after securing this year's MLE Rookie of the Year title -- a much-contested prize he snagged ahead of Matt "Megatoad" Stonie, who's since leapfrogged him in the rankings to stand all the way up at 10th in the world.
But with a $1,500 prize on the line, third-ranked Tim "Eater X" Janus, was still the man to beat. And as Janus pranced to the table Saturday, all grins and escorted by a pair of contest judges, he didn't seem inclined to give up the title.
And true to form, Janus nailed the win, downing 67 tamales in the 12-minute contest, eating 11 more than Stonie.
On an eating circuit usually dominated by traveling pros, though, Saturday's bout was notable for how well the locals performed. Biller, from Wichita Falls, downed an impressive 32 tamales, good enough for fourth, and Waco's Gary Klucken finished fifth.
Longtime challenger Brent Ricord, who seems to turn up in every contest from Dallas to Forth Worth sporting his throwback/suburban dad high-sittin' tube-socks look, finished this one in the money, downing 22 tamales.