Notorious B.O.B. won by an ear — and a split lip.
“I don’t feel it,” said a beaming Notorious, also known as Bob Shoudt of Royersford, Pa., about the collateral damage in his mouth. “This is a big win.”
Crown him king of corn-eating kings, consuming 35 ears in 12 minutes. Besides jaws of steel, he said it took careful strategy to knock off defending champion Jason “Crazy Legs” Conti of New York by one ear Sunday at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
Shoudt said his wife was signaling him from the crowd — legal under competitive eating rules — about how his competitors were doing. Scoring is based on ears cleared, with deductions for leaving kernels on the cob or scattered on the table and the floor. Shoudt said he was trying to finish with most ears touched as well as cleared.
His wife would say a number to indicate a competitor, and then give information about that opponent’s progress, he said.
Shoudt has finished second and third before, but never first at this particular event.
The 13th annual Sweet Corn Fiesta, held at Yesteryear Village at the fairgrounds, highlights locally grown sweet corn. The event attracts more than 4,000 visitors a year.
Nichole and Billy Perry of Lake Worth have been coming for about 10 years, and the eating contest is part of the fun, they said. Their kids “liked it a lot,” she said.
There are really three main strategies for eating corn, said master of ceremonies George Shea, who travels as a host of eating events.
“Number one is the typewriter,” Shea said. That’s going left to right as if typing on an old-fashioned typewriter.
Two is going around and around, up and down, like unrolling a roll of toilet paper, he said.
And three is the stripper — as in strip mining. That’s what Shoudt does.
“I’ve got to tell you that strategy we saw today is nothing short of extreme and aggressive,” Shea said.
It takes tremendous jaw power to clear that many kernels by the root, he said.
By Shea’s count after deductions, Shoudt won 35 ears to 34.
Corn-eating requires more judgment calls from the judges than, say, wing-eating, he said. In the latter event, the wings can be weighed before the event and the bones and scraps after, and the winner is the one with the biggest difference. That’s not currently how it’s done with corn, which takes a lot of input from judges to assess how many ears have been truly cleared, he said.
Shoudt, also known as Humble Bob, holds a number of records, according to his website: salmon chowder, 23.4 lbs. (2.4 gallons) in 6 minutes using a spoon Dec. 3, 2009, NYC; chili spaghetti, 13.9 lbs. in 10 minutes; roast beef sliders, 37.5 in 8 minutes, Nov. 14, 2009, Frederick, Md.; Krystal hamburgers, 39 in 2 minutes, Sept. 9, 2006, Nashville, Tenn.
There’s a price to be paid on the corn circuit, Shoudt acknowledged.
One issue is how he’s eating the corn. He’s generally eating the kernels whole, and typically that means they won’t really be digested, unlike the more fully chewed corn most people consume at a normal meal.
That can be a little “uncomfortable” later in the digestive process, he said.
He peeled back up his upper lip, revealing a split underneath.
“That’s going to sting if I eat something salty tomorrow,” he said. “But I don’t feel anything right now.”