By Riley Manning
CORINTH – The scorching heat at Corinth’s 27th annual Slugburger Festival may have kept the lines to rides and games short, but it didn’t dampen the crowd gathered to watch this year’s slugburger eating contest.
For two years straight, reigning slugburger champ Matt Stonie faced off against professional eater Joey Chestnut, fresh off wins at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in Coney Island.
Chestnut and Stonie are ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, competitive eaters in the world by Major League Eating, the governing and sanctioning body over, in the words of MLE announcer Sam Barclay, “stomach-centric sports.”
This year is the third year the MLE has sanctioned the Slugburger Festival, where seven contestants consume as many doughy burgers as they can in 10 minutes. Last year, Stonie edged out Chestnut by just one burger, consuming 31 sandwiches. This year, he again claimed victory by a one-burger margin, only this time he managed to cram in 43 total.
“I usually catch people at the end, but not this time,” Chestnut said. “I thought I was ready to win. The slugburger’s texture is different from almost anything else.”
Stonie said the rivalry is a friendly one, and the Slugburger Festival is one of his favorite events.
“[Chestnut] and I push each other. It’s a whirlwind, and I just try to push the pace,” Stonie said. “The Slugburger Festival was my first competitive win, so it’s great to keep the title.”
Both eaters said the slugburger is an interesting cultural oddity of food, but if you’re wondering why the soy-and-meat patty is called a “slugburger,” you have to ask a Corinth native.
“The slugburger is a depression burger,” said Corinth resident Larry King. “It’s usually made with soy meal and beef, but sometimes pork. There’s obviously no slugs in it. They call it that because slugburgers used to cost five cents, and they used to call a nickel a ‘slug.’”
Perhaps nobody knows slugburgers better than the folks at Borroum’s downtown pharmacy in Corinth. They produced the 250 sandwiches to be used in the contest. Debbie Mitchell, who helped man the fryers at Borroum’s store’s booth, said their recipe used pork, soy, flour and a few secret spices.
“I don’t know what the spices are,” she said. “But the best way to eat them is with pickle, onion and mustard.”