Crunching through competition
PSU student wins first Taco Tuesday tournament
Jay Benedict | Editor-in-chief
On Monday night, 5th Street Bar and Grill drew a large crowd who came to watch the University of Kentucky Wildcats get crowned champions of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Another crowd gathered Tuesday night to see a different champion crowned.
Eric Claudell became Pittsburg’s most accomplished taco-devouring resident after winning 5th Street’s first taco, speeding-eating competition.
“I was shaking from the nerves and adrenaline,” said Claudell, junior in manufacturing engineering. “It’s just tough forcing yourself to eat that much that quickly. That, and I was really hungry. I hadn’t eaten all day.”
Claudell went head-to-head with Pittsburg resident Josh Stovall in the championship. Each contestant was given 12 hard-shell tacos and had to eat them and any scraps left behind as quickly as they could. Claudell finished in just over four minutes. Stovall had a little more than one taco remaining when the contest ended.
“He was just fast, and I kind of got the meat sweats there toward the end,” Stovall said.
The event was sponsored by Bud Light Lime, and Claudell received a Bud Light Lime bicycle and prize bag for winning.
“I’ll probably just use it as decoration or a trophy,” Claudell said. “It’s pretty cool, so if I ride it around campus I’m afraid it will get stolen. If I do ride it, I might put an engine on it.”
To get to the championship matchup, both contestants had to make it through a qualifying round. Kyle Mullen, 5th Street manager, says there were five qualifying rounds, and each one was held on the bar’s weekly Taco Tuesday night.
Mullen says the eight contestants with the best times were then put into an eight-man bracket and competed head-to-head to make it to the next round.
“The losers each week had to pay,” Mullen said. “So not only did he get the bike and prize bag, but he’s eaten 48 tacos for free, too.”
Mullen says the competition used to be quantity-based. Contestants could come in on Tuesday night and eat as many tacos as they could in one hour.
“We felt like we had to change it up,” Mullen said. “The record was set at 54 and no one was even attempting it.”
Claudell says he thought the championship was going to be quantity-based and guessed he could have eaten 25-30 tacos.
“I thought we would have 20 minutes to eat as many as we could, so I prepared for that,” Claudell said. “But it really would have depended on what the other guy did.”
Stovall says he prepared by watching a motivational video on the Internet. Claudell says he took a more strategic approach. He says he only ate breakfast and stayed active all day so he would be really hungry.
Claudell says the final came down to fan support. He says his roommates and friends cheered him on and held up homemade signs while he ate his way to victory.
“We didn’t expect there to be such a crowd tonight, so I’d definitely say it was a success,” Mullen said. “We’ll probably do this annually around NCAA tournament time and hopefully it catches on.”
Stovall and Claudell both say they’d participate again if 5th Street hosts another tournament.
“It was fun, and I got tacos and a bike,” Claudell said. “I’ll definitely be back to defend my title.”