‘Thunder’ questions champ’s Apple Ugly eating method

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sara Gregory
This eating contest just got a little, well, ugly.
After Keatin Shelton downed 14 Apple Uglies at Faith Fourth’s inaugural competition, something ó and not the 440 calories in each pastry ó didn’t feel right.
Shelton stomached the Uglies with the help of water. So did most of the eight other Ugly eaters.
Except the professional.
Dale “Mouth of the South” Boone dipped each ugly in a mug of hot tea.
After friends pointed that out, Shelton e-mailed the Apple Baking Co., which organized the competition, to say that he didn’t think Boone’s record should count.
“I believe the tea may have given him an advantage,” Shelton wrote. “Anyway your rules were broken.”
The rules say that contestants can have cups of water. The rules also say contestants can’t use condiments on Uglies ó which are “delicious enough on their own.”
So is hot tea a condiment?
Apple Baking Co. President Matt DeBoer says no. In an e-mail he says that Boone will keep the Ugly Champion title until next year’s competition.
“(Shelton) was a great competitor and stood shoulder to shoulder with an International champion and he held his own,” DeBoer wrote. “(His) nickname ‘Thunder’ was well deserved.”
Which might have ended Apple Ugly debate of the century, except Boone feels funny about the results, too.
He videotaped the competition, and after watching it says he doesn’t think Shelton actually ate 14 Apple Uglies.
That’s “no big deal” to him, though, and Boone says he considers Shelton a friend.
DeBoer says he hasn’t seen the video and based on that, “I can only stand by the judge’s decision.”
Boone also says he’s surprised with the tea complaint.
“They saw me pour the hot tea in,” he says. “The judges were standing right there, and they had no problem.”
Boone says he notified the judges ahead of time that he was bringing hot tea, a trick he learned at other eating competitions.
“You pick up knowledge as you go,” Boone says says. “It makes the attack of sugar on your system a lot less.
“It’s a huge difference between Monday night eating 13 and then eating 17 at the finals.”
Would-be Ugly-eaters who take that advice in next year’s competition won’t be the first to learn from Boone, a professional competitive eater from Atlanta who has eaten everything from hot dogs to crocodile eggs.
During the final, other contestants brought big cups of water just as Boone did in the first round.
“They saw me bring bigger cups and they brought bigger cups,” he says, adding that he expects to see others use hot tea next year.
The competition was meant to be “fun and entertaining,” DeBoer says, and “we consider it to be a great success.”
For Shelton’s part, he says he’s fine with the the Apple Baking Co.’s decision and can’t wait to try again.
He plans to use the six- month supply of Uglies he won to practice for next year’s contest, when he thinks he can beat Boone.
“I’m sure I can beat him with the practice,” he says.