Local competitive eater tries to break chicken salad sandwich world record today [VIDEO]
Eric Dahl is literally eating for his education.
The 21-year-old Delano native is currently in his senior year at the University of Wisconsin, where he's studying to earn a degree in computer science. Like many other students, Dahl works during the week to help fund his school costs. But the way he does it is anything but ordinary.
He's a professional eater, who is currently ranked No. 1 on All Pro Eating's "Food Warriors" list. Even though he has only been eating competitively for just over a year, he already has two World Records to his name (most pulled pork sandwiches and most pumpkin pie), and plans to add a third to his resume later today in Michigan City, Ind., when he competes in the "Wakefield Sandwich Company World Chicken Salad Sandwich Eating Championship."
We caught up with "Silo" earlier in the week, to chat about his budding career as he was preparing for a tremendous feat of eats.
All right, so you're trying to break the world record for chicken salad sandwiches. What is the current record?
The record right now is 22 sandwiches, and I have eight minutes to break it. I'm also competing against anywhere from 8 to 12 other people, and the top prize is $600.
How did you get started with competitive eating?
It was just sort of a spur of the moment thing. About a year ago I was visiting some buddies in Madison, and this place we went to had an eating challenge to see if you could finish a five-pound burger and fries. I decided to give it a shot, did it, and just started looking for more competitions and challenges after that.
Where do you find these types of challenges?
I eat for an organization called All Pro Eating, which promotes events all over the country. This Friday I'll be doing the chicken salad sandwich contest, then after that I'm headed to Niagara Falls, N.Y., (tamale-eating championship), Birmingham, Ala., (pecan-pie-eating championship), and Spring Grove, Minn., (lutefisk-eating championship).
Do you ever think you'll head out to Coney Island for the big July 4 hot-dog-eating contest?
That's actually an event put on by Major League Eating, which is a competing organization with All Pro. Honestly, I think I'm probably at the level of the top five guys and girls they have, but the problem with MLE is you have to sign a three-year exclusive deal. I make way more money being independent and entering eating challenges wherever I want. I'm eating for my education, and being in these contests has helped me pay for school. Plus I can do them on weekends so it doesn't really interfere with my schoolwork.
How many eating contests and challenges have you done to this point?
I don't know for sure, but I think it's about 20.
How do you prepare for these kinds of events?
I practice quite a bit to get ready. I'll do a test run to get familiar with the food, and really just get myself mentally prepared for how it's going to feel.
What's the worst food you've eaten competitively?
One time I did an eating challenge with a partner where we had to eat a 13-pound pizza called "The Big Kahuna." It was loaded with pretty much every topping imaginable, plus, like, a jar of garlic. I got through about seven-and-a-half pounds on my own, but he couldn't keep eating, so we didn't finish.
Any plans for the future as an eater?
I'd like to keep going with it even after I graduate. Ironic as this may seem, I really want to get involved in the health and fitness field, and I think my knowledge about conditioning and calorie intake will really help.
Last question: What do the ladies think when you tell them how much you can eat?
You'd be surprised what a good conversation starter it is. It's worked pretty well for me.
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