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5 Tips for Hosting an Eating Contest

1. Establish the rules clearly.

Make sure that your rules are clear for competitors. For starters, you should establish whether participants are trying to eat the largest amount of food in a specific time or trying to finish a set amount of food quickly. You will also want to address the nitpickier aspects of food contest rules, such as whether dunking, the act of dipping food into a liquid such as water before eating it, is allowed.

Speed eating contests can be risky due to the choking hazards. So you may want to consider other options like:

  • Multiple rounds of 1-2 minutes – Eating small quantities of progressively spicier foods. If a contestant is successful, they can advance to the next round.
  • Multiple rounds of 1-2 minute – One donut (or other food item per minute). It allows for enough time for a contestant to safely eat an item, but the quantity builds up over time.  If a contestant is successful, they can advance to the next round.

By spreading out the contest over time, you can make it more enjoyable and fun for those attending. Plus it builds suspense!

Make sure to talk to a doctor and get their approval before creating your event to ensure it’s safe for participants.

2. Select a suitable venue.

You’ll want a venue that has space for contestants to eat and spectators to watch them. Depending on how many contestants and how many spectators you anticipate, the size of the space will vary. If you expect a large turnout, you might want a venue large enough for a stage area so that contestants are easily visible to spectators.

3. Have a convenient and easy registration and ticket purchase process.

To encourage people to spectate and participate, make sure that your registration and ticket purchase process is convenient. Ideally, optimize your registration page for mobile so that your supporters can register from wherever they are. Additionally, include a link to your registration page when you promote your event through your marketing channels.

4. Enlist volunteers to help with the event.

If your competition has multiple heats or features multiple contests, you’ll want some help to keep things organized and keep the event on track. Recruit volunteers to usher contestants to the correct places, bring food out, time the contestants, and otherwise keep the event running smoothly.

5. Hire a cleanup crew.

Eating contests can get very messy—you’ll need a dedicated plan for cleanup after the event is over. A professional cleaning crew will be able to efficiently and thoroughly clean the venue and save your staff some hassle.

Foods for an Eating Contest

Not sure what food you should use for your eating contest? Here are a few popular ones for eating contests:

  • Spicy wings
  • Donuts
  • Apple sauce
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Pies
  • Pancakes
  • Pizzas

If you’re interested in a food that isn’t on this list, feel free to use it instead! You can also try to tie the food back to your nonprofit’s mission. For example, if your nonprofit is dedicated to supporting Japanese communities, you could pick foods from Japan such as sushi or gyoza.

Eating Contest Safety Considerations

RISK: Although eating contests are popular to participate in and watch, they can be dangerous for participants. Here are a few ways you can ensure that everyone stays safe:

  • Talk to a doctor to make sure you’re not creating a choking hazard. Make sure the food is safe to eat and is extremely unlikely to be a choking hazard. If a doctor doesn’t agree it’s safe, we recommend you don’t proceed.
  • Have an EMT on site. For the safety of your participants, have an EMT in case of any emergency health situations.
  • Ask participants to sign a waiver. Warn participants of the potential health risks and ask them to sign an event liability waiver that absolves your organization of responsibility should anything happen.

Remember that the safety of your participants is paramount—don’t let any health incidents get in the way of you having an entertaining event!