Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Israel News

Many Matzo Balls: Eating Contest Heads to Lone Star State

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.

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.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.