September 4, 2011 in City

Eating contest benefits food bank

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Melissa Hansen looks ruefully at the next spoonful of ice cream from a Vermonster – a sundae with 20 scoops, four bananas and many sauces and toppings. She won Saturday’s contest.
(Full-size photo)

Pig Out in the Park

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Monday

Where: Riverfront Park

Details: For music schedule and vendor information, visit

Pig Out in the Park isn’t all about gluttony. It can be about giving, too.

Four people won a chance to compete in Ben and Jerry’s Vermonster ice cream eating contest by donating food or money to Second Harvest Food Bank.

“It’s just a fun way to be involved in the community,” said Kari Conner, owner of the downtown Ben and Jerry’s.

Those who donated the most cash or canned food to the Ben and Jerry’s shop by noon Friday were selected to compete in Saturday’s contest. In its inaugural year, the event netted $400 and about 300 cans of food for the nonprofit, Conner said.

“In these times, that’s going to help a lot of people,” she said. “Hopefully next year we’ll do it again.”

The crowd cheered as the four competitors braved brain freezes and plowed through their Vermonsters, which consisted of 20 scoops of ice cream in a variety of flavors, served in a bucket and eaten with a small shovel.

In addition to the nearly five pints of ice cream, the massive sundaes included four ladles of fudge, three chocolate chip cookies, four bananas, one chocolate fudge brownie, 10 scoops of nuts, eight scoops of toppings and whipped cream.

“Tons of whipped cream,” Conner said. “Tons of nuts. All kinds of toppings.”

The rules were simple. The ice cream could not be shared and whoever ate the most or finished first was declared the winner. And once eaten, the ice cream couldn’t come back up.

“If you throw up, you’re disqualified,” Conner said.

However, she said, “we do have throw-up buckets next to them,” just in case.

Some competitors chipped away at their mammoth mounds of ice cream slowly and steadily, while others dug in, shoveling the ice cream into their mouths as quickly as possible. The prize was bragging rights and a tacky trophy.

After nearly 30 minutes of intense ice cream eating, three competitors had forfeited and Melissa Hansen was declared the winner, despite having suffered some serious brain freezes throughout the competition.

Her strategy: “Trying to melt it down so I could drink it,” she said.

Asked how she felt after devouring a large portion of the bucket, she said, “Not too bad. I feel all right.”

“Sticky,” she added.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email