Garrison Keillor once wrote that there are some prizes which are not worth winning. He cited a pie eating contest as an example. But perhaps there are times when even the taking part may not be as worthwhile as intended. Recently World Pie Eating Championships held in Harry’s Bar in Wigan were declared invalid after suppliers sent the wrong pies to the event. The large Adlington pies were destined to go to a Divorce Party. They were twice the size of the pies specified for the contest and the organisers decided to go ahead with the contest by cutting the pies in half. A competing fitness instructor/warehouse supervisor, set the best time of 42.6 seconds for eating half a pie, but the umpires declared the results null and void because of safety concerns. They said eating the 24cm (10in) pies could result in a dangerous “swallow stall”. The pie specifications are quite detailed and include the rule that there should be no gravy due to worries that competitors would mix in cough syrup to speed-up consumption. Competitors practise pie eating to get ready for the competition but not all took the mix up in their stride. Julie Welsh hoped to be the first woman to lift the trophy but walked out before the start because of the last minute pie change. She said: “I’m sick with disappointment but there are some principles you can’t compromise. I’ll be back next year, if they see sense.” Local pie-eating athlete, Andy Driscoll, said: “My mate and I have been practicing for weeks on small, soft Wigan pies, and at the last minute, they’ve substituted these monsters.” And amid the tumult the accusations fly – the pies weren’t even from the north (of England). Vince Bowen, the pies’ maker, was slated for originating from Southern England and including steam holes that could allow the pies to be contaminated. Bowen retorted to the criticism “I may be from down south but I know what makes a good pie.”
And if all this trivia was not enough The people of Wigan are called ‘Pie-eaters’ because during the general Strike of 1926 workers from Wigan were the first to go back to work and break the strike. From then on they were called ‘Humble Pie Eaters’, now just ‘Pie eaters’.
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