Many Matzo Balls: Eating Contest Heads to Lone Star State

By Sarah Kricheff

Published March 13, 2008, issue of March 21, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Has the world of competitive matzo ball eating moved south? The popular contest that was held for seven years straight at Ben’s deli in New York City came to an end in 2004, when Eric “Badlands” Booker claimed a victory. But now it seems that some people in Texas are ready to revive the tradition.

Big Appetite: Joey Chestnut wolfed down 78 matzo balls.
Big Appetite: Joey Chestnut wolfed down 78 matzo balls.

Earlier this month, Houston set the stage for the first-ever World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship, hosted by Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant (a restaurant located in Houston), the Jewish Herald-Voice reported. Professional competitive-eating champ Joey Chestnut claimed the top prize of $1,500 and broke Booker’s record, ingesting 78 matzo balls in eight minutes (in 2004, Booker ate 21 balls in five minutes and 25 seconds).

Chestnut, 24, didn’t have much experience with this particular staple of Jewish cuisine before he started training for the contest (he’s not Jewish). “I think I tried them once at a friend’s house, but other than that I’d never eaten them in mass quantity,” he told The Shmooze. “It turns out that I like them. I ate more than I thought I would.”
A California native, Chestnut made headlines last summer in an upset at the Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, held at Nathan’s in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, when he unseated the reigning champion, Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi of Japan.

As for New Yorkers still hoping for another matzo ball eating contest in the Big Apple, they might be better off planning a trip to the Lone Star State next year. Scott Singer, president of Ben’s, told The Shmooze that the company canceled its event because it was “no longer meeting our marketing objectives.”

The Houston contest was a charity event, and it had the official stamp of approval of the International Federation of Competitive Eating and Major League Eating.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.