Get the popcorn: Joey Chestnut visits Indy Indians
For the average baseball fan, popcorn is a snack to be savored over the course of several innings. For Joey Chestnut, it's to be eaten nonstop at rapid speed over the course of eight suspense-filled minutes. At 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, prior to the evening's Indianapolis Indians game
For the average baseball fan, popcorn is a snack to be savored over the course of several innings. For Joey Chestnut, it's to be eaten nonstop at rapid speed over the course of eight suspense-filled minutes.
At 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, prior to the evening's Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field, Chestnut will attempt to set a popcorn-eating world record. The current mark was established in Las Vegas on April 24, 2021, when Matt Stonie wolfed down 28.5, 24-ounce servings in eight minutes. Chestnut remembers that moment well, as he was sitting just to Stonie's left as kernel-crunching history was made. It was a rare defeat for the man recognized as the greatest competitive eater of all time; according to Major League Eating, Chestnut "holds 55 world records across 55 disciplines. That is a World Record of World Records."
"I did that [popcorn] contest last year and got my butt kicked," said Chestnut. "So it is a little bit personal."
Aug. 23 will be the second consecutive Tuesday in which Chestnut appears at Victory Field, as he has partnered with the Indians to promote their Dollar Menu Nights. Every Tuesday, the Triple-A Pittsburgh affiliate offers $1 peanuts, chips, Cracker Jack, hot dogs and, yes, popcorn. During last Tuesday's game Chestnut took part in a series of one-minute exhibitions, although he only needed five seconds to down the entirety of a 24-ounce Beer Bat.
"[Tuesday] night was in-between innings, and popcorn was definitely one of the harder ones," he said. "I know I have to have better technique. I hope I can practice ... and be ready for the event on Tuesday. With popcorn I have the bad habit, with the first handful, of taking way too much. I overstuff my mouth and can’t chew it. It’s like Styrofoam. So I have to make sure I don’t grab too much, go with smaller handfuls, take quick sips of water, find a rhythm."
In addition to promoting the Indians' Dollar Menu, Chestnut is promoting his own foodstuffs as well. Fans at last Tuesday's game received bottles of his Classic Boardwalk Coney Sauce. This coming Tuesday, bottles of Green Hatch and Jalapeno wing and dipping sauce will be distributed. Chestnut now lives in Westfield, Indiana, approximately 30 miles north of Indianapolis.
“Indiana loves its winners, and we’re grateful to have Joey Chestnut -- the World’s Greatest Competitive Eater -- now as one of our own, an adopted Hoosier," said Indians president Randy Lewandowski. "We can’t wait for him to add to his illustrious list of world records while at The Vic.”
"I moved out here last year and love it," added Chestnut. "I've been to a couple [Indians] games before. It’s a great field.... I’ll be signing [sauce] bottles and doing a meet and greet. We're giving away 1,000 bottles to people as they leave. We want there to be a lot of happy people."
For Chestnut to achieve the new popcorn record, he'll need those (hopefully) happy people to support him.
"I’m a little bit worried. It’s harder to eat alone, definitely a lot easier with [competitors] pushing me," he said. "Hopefully the audience is yelling at me and I find my happy place, and kill it."
Win, lose or draw, Chestnut said he would be delighted to do a return engagement at Victory Field.
"I’d love to do an ice cream sandwich challenge," he said. "That'd be awesome."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.