Forty people gathered in front of in Campbell Saturday to witness the , a sugar-fueled competition held to commemorate National Donut Day.
Four gladiators of glutton went head to head against each other and a 3.5-pound donut pizza, a “ginormous donut” as one young onlooker described it. Whoever ate their entire donut pizza first or finished the most in 20 minutes took home the title as the fastest donut pizza eater around.
“We discovered when we started making these donut pizzas that they were just the right size to challenge people,” said Psycho Donut's owner Jordan Zweigoron. “It’s challenging enough for amateur eaters and perhaps even challenging enough for professional eaters too.”
Divided into four parts, the donut was topped with crumbled Oreo cookies, graham cracker S'mores, Captain Crunch “Cereal Killer” and—in keeping with the competition’s PsychoBugz theme—bacon cheddar crickets and mealworms.
“They’re finding out this is not a sprint, but a marathon,” Jeff Kramer, chief entertainment officer at Comedy Sportz in San Jose and the event’s master of ceremonies, said of the contest soon after the eaters dug in.
Competitor Klara Kim, 28, of San Jose said she tried out training techniques used by various professional eaters to see if any would help her prepare for chowing down on a gigantic donut pizza.
“One competitor only has one meal a day,” she explained. “I tried that, but I was miserable. Kobayashi drinks seltzer water, but I realized I don’t like seltzer water. Joey Chestnut drinks a gallon of water the day of the competition. I did that, but I can’t tell if that’s actually helping me or not.”
Kim, a librarian at the , said Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, a champion competitive eater, inspired her to join the contest.
“I want to see what my body is capable off,” she said. “And eat 3.5 pounds of donut bliss.”
J.J. Hernandez, 26, of San Lorenzo finished second overall. The accounts payable specialist said that eating fast is “normal” for him, thanks to his upbringing.
“My parents were both in the military, so for some reason I’ve always just eaten really fast,” he said. “I think that’s going to give me an edge.”
Hernandez said he didn’t eat a thing from 7 p.m. the night before the competition up until his first bite of donut.
“I’m ready to eat,” he said, psyching himself up.
The event’s winner, eating a full half of his donut, was Chris Ruddell, 24, of Castro Valley. The San Jose State graduate student had never competed against other eaters before, though he has tried a few challenges—like eating a 5-pound burrito at Iguanas in San Jose—to test his metal.
“I didn’t really have a strategy going in,” he said after taking the title. “Initially, I wanted to get rid of the toppings first, thinking they weighed the most, but about two thirds of the way through I flipped it over and just ate the bottom part of the donut. In retrospect, I would have done that from the beginning.”
Ruddell said he foresaw eating “actual sustenance” later in the day and although part of his winnings included 12 free Psycho donuts, he didn’t think he’d cash them in anytime soon.
“I don’t think I’m going to have donuts for awhile.”