Editor's Note: Pacers radio broadcaster Mark Boyle is spending his summer working as a broadcaster/mentor with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League. See Also: Boyle's Excellent Adventure »
It wasn't long after arriving at the cape that I began to hear whispers. They would eventually grow louder, but in the beginning that's all they were. Whispers. Oh, I'd catch snippets from time to time, but never enough that I really understood the topic, much less the meaning. And then one day, the whispers morphed into a question.
"Do you think you could eat a donut burger on the air?"
As you might imagine, the question caught me off guard, primarily because I had never heard of a donut burger before arriving in Yarmouth. It was explained to me that a few years back, some guy – later to be christened Donut Bob – came up with the idea of taking the typical ballpark hamburger and replacing the bun with a Dunkin Donut, in the process creating a taste sensation that, if nothing else, is unique to Red Wilson Field.
The idea of eating this burger on the air was not unprecedented. My broadcast partner, Anthony Santaniello, had managed to choke one down last season and was willing to give it a go again, as was our sideline reporter, Kaley Kiss. Being competitive, there was no way I was not going to accept the gauntlet thrown by two kids who weren't even alive back in the day when I would routinely slam down an entire bag of Oreo cookies, then gamely force down dinner three hours later so my mom would remain oblivious to my highly questionable dietary choices.
I looked at this as a two pronged challenge. First order of business was to choose the donut. Now, there's an art to this, as not every donut in the box works well with a big slab of ground beef (did I mention that the patty was slathered in cheese whiz? No? Well, yum, yum). Powdered? No. Too dry. I needed something that would help the whole mess slide smoothly down my throat and into my unsuspecting stomach. A jelly donut would work; alas, I've always found jelly to be a loathsome product best confined to America's prisons. If you don't think being forced to eat jelly on a regular basis for years on end would be a serious impediment to recidivism, I suggest that you reconsider.
Anyway, I settled on the Boston Kreme (their spelling, not mine), reasoning that a) it's delicious, b) it should help slide the whole mess on down to paydirt, and c) nothing really goes with beef and cheese whiz anyway, so what difference does it make?
The second part of the process was a bit more challenging. This meal, it seemed to me, could cause great gastrointestinal distress if I didn't prepare properly. But how to go about it? And then it occurred to me. Surely I could learn something by mimicking the training methods of Takeru Kobayashi, who has won the Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest six times, and also holds or has held world records for consumption of pizza, tacos, pasta, meatballs, ice cream, Twinkies, and, most importantly, hamburgers.
Kobayashi, my friend The Internet revealed, "revolutionized professional eating with his 'Solomon method', which was named for biblical king, but instead of cutting babies in half, Kobayashi yanks the dogs from their buns and eats them separately". Further research claimed that Mr. K likes to down three gallons of water in ninety seconds, which seems beyond human capability to me. At the very least, it's way beyond anything I can do, and in the end I decided to discard his methods, hope that the fact both of us would be going about our business on the fourth of July would provide us with some sort of a psychic bond that I could tap into, and go with what I would come to refer to as "The MJB Blueprint For Competitive Eating Success".
This is what I did. I had a cup of coffee at 9:00 the morning of the fourth, ate a banana at 10:30, and didn't consume anything else until leaving for the game at 2:30. Game time was 5:00, and the donuts appeared in the booth around 5:30, by which time I was starving and dealing with a hunger induced cloud of anger that had me half believing that Hannibal Lechter was a righteous man.
Kaley went with the powdered donut, while Anthony and I both opted for Boston Kreme (totally irrelevant observation: why does corporate American so often find misspelling to be such a savvy marketing ploy? No wonder we're devolving into a nation of imbeciles). While Kaley and Anthony discussed the merits of their choices, punctuating their dialogue with periodic schoolgirl-like giggling, your boy attacked. I devoured my burger in less than two minutes, leaving only microscopic crumbs as evidence that the thing ever existed in the first place. Kaley and Anthony managed to finish theirs, too, but not in the same impressive, carnivorous, frighteningly efficient manner that Yours Truly demonstrated.
Meanwhile, while we were savoring our donut burgers, Mr. Kobayashi was nowhere to be seen at Nathan's, as Matt Stonie defeated runner up Joey Chestnut for this year's championship.
Perhaps next year he should consider emulating my methods.