Apple Ugly eating contest packs ’em in
By Mark Wineka
FAITH ó Pass the barf bag, please.
“There were a few times I thought I was going to hurl,” said Keatin Shelton, a 320-pound behemoth who entered the Apply Ugly eating contest qualifier Monday night at the Faith Fourth of July celebration.
His roommates talked him into it. He had never eaten an Ugly before but was able to down six in 10 minutes.
Shelton acknowledged afterward it took him awhile to figure out the right combination of pastry and water for maximum eating.
Monday’s qualifier drew 10 contestants, all of whom are invited back for the finals at 8:30 p.m. Friday, the Fourth. Those who show up will be trying to upset Dale “Mouth of the South” Boone, who easily ate 13 Apple Uglies in the allotted time.
“A baker’s dozen,” said Boone, a professional eater from Atlanta who set a goal of 13 to honor the contest’s sponsor, Salisbury’s Apple Baking Co., makers of the 440-calorie, 4-ounce, glazed Ugly.
To Rowan Countians, “Ugly” rhymes with “delicacy.”
The Uglies consumed Monday night were fresh, made that day at the bakery.
It was the first-ever Apple Ugly contest, which organizers hope can become a sanctioned eating event in future years.
Any mark that Boone or the other competitors set this week will be a world record.
Boone said the sugar content of the Uglies was much stronger than he anticipated, but he really enjoyed the down home, friendly atmosphere of the competition and the large crowd watching.
Last Saturday, the 303-pound Boone said he set a corn dog record, eating 17 in five minutes, at the Corn-Dog-A-Rama in Atlanta. He divulged one of his training tools to get his stomach ready for competition ó watermelons.
During much of the year, he travels the competitive eating circuit in Asia and calls India his home base.
“I just like going up against people and saying you’re world champion,” said Boone, who holds records for several foods, including Russian dumplings and reindeer sausage.
Contestants had to be at least 18 years old. They were required to unwrap each Ugly from its cellophane packaging and were allowed to drink water. Small waste cans stood in front of them in case they had to, as Shelton put it, hurl.
But any regurgitation of an Ugly was an automatic disqualifier. The good news to report Monday was that contestants kept all their cookies.
Judges, part of the “Ugly Staff,” determined when each competitor had eaten an Ugly and could go on to the next one. Scorers behind the table kept count for each contestant.
Some of the top performers Monday, besides Boone, included Timothy Cameron of Granite Quarry, who notched eight Uglies; Kristy Spurlock of Salisbury, who recorded an impressive seven; and Shelton of Rockwell and Eric Stone of Faith, who each put down six.
“Bloated,” the 23-year-old Spurlock said afterward. “I thought I was going to puke.”
Spurlock and her longtime friend, Amy Buckey of Faith, dared each other to enter the competition. Both were talking trash an hour before the eating starting.
“You’re going down, girl,” Spurlock told Buckey.
Both set a goal of eating 10 Uglies. Buckey ended up eating only a half-Ugly before the pastry caught in her throat. She bowed out quietly.
Cameron, who entered at Spurlock’s urging, proved to be more of threat. The first five Uglies ó each deep-fried pastry has about 20 grams of fat ó went down fairly well, Cameron said. Then things got tough. He could hardly manage No. 8.
Shelton, a 24-year-old bar bouncer and sometime substitute teacher, said he had tried to win a hot dog eating contest at Hap’s in Salisbury once, but he had to walk out and be sick after hot dog No. 12.
In getting ready for Friday’s final, Shelton said, he’ll be trying to stretch out his stomach. A mistake he made Monday was eating lunch, he said.
First prize in the Ugly eating contest is $497.36 and a year’s supply of Uglies (a 24-pack each month).
There are substantial cash and ugly prizes for second and third place, too.
Matt DeBoer, president of Apple Baking Co., said exciting things are on the horizon for Uglies (they come in several other flavors, too). They will soon be available in Food Lion grocery stores.
Also, Apple Baking has been collaborating with Salisbury-based Cheerwine to make a Cheerwine Cake, which will be launched as a product later this summer. Cheerwine Cake will be available in a 3-ounce mini-bundt, a half-cake and whole-cake sizes, and the Ugly Staff handed out free samples Monday night.
Other contestants in the qualifier Monday included Dana Garris and Timothy Garris, both of Salisbury; Crystal Morris of Faith; and Elizabeth Foye of Salisbury.
“It was a fun experience,” said Foye, who quit the contest after three Uglies. “It was very sweet.”
She offered a quiet “maybe” when asked if she would return Friday for the final. In fact, she acknowledged she might not be able to look at an Ugly again for a couple of weeks. Then she thought again.
“Or a couple of months.”