Kim Borkowski

Equinox Staff


Despite a campus-wide cancellation of classes due to snow, Keene State College students crowded the Night Owl Cafe to cheer on the second annual Sizzler Eating Contest.

Six students sat facing the crowd trying to eat as many sizzlers possible in 19 minutes and nine seconds – the time represents the year the school was founded, explained Gino Vallante, the student center programs coordinator.

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Vallante said students were allowed to sign up for the eating contest, and six names were later pulled out of a hat.  “We called each of them letting them know they got it a few days before the competition,” Vallante stated. Throughout the competition, the sizzlers weighed a consistent eight ounces.

Each contestant started out with three sizzlers consisting of chicken, cheese, lettuce, and his or her own choice of one sauce.  The contestants also had cups of water to assist in digesting their sizzlers. The contestants had to eat as many sizzlers as they possibly could, without vomiting or forfeiting.

The only student to do either of these was Cameron Gillies, who forfeited.  The other five competitors were Stephanie Morse, Gregory Nelson, David Hersey, Chris Mallon, and Jared Brown. The Student Body President, Colin Daly, explained this is the school’s second Sizzler Eating Contest.

Daly said the Events Committee and Student Government came up with the idea of the competition.  “It’s something out of the ordinary and fun.  The sizzler is one of a kind, and we’re the only school that has it.  This eating contest shows our school spirit for it,” Daly said. Student Government gave out three trophies for the top winners.

The only female in the competition, Stephanie Morse, won third place after eating four and a half sizzlers.

Chris Mallon won second place after eating five sizzlers.  The first place winner, David Hersey, set a record after eating seven and a quarter sizzlers.

Colin Daly added, “The winners will also get bragging rights and the first place winner will have a plaque hung in the Night Owl Cafe.” Chris Mallon explained he had no idea he was signed up for the eating contest, and thought it was a prank call when he found out he would be competing.

After winning second place, Mallon explained he felt extremely full and added, “I feel sick.”

Mallon said, “I honestly hadn’t had a sizzler in probably a year before today.”

Stephanie Morse said she prepared for the eating contest by eating a lot of food in the days leading up to the competition, and only had a small breakfast the morning of the event.

Unlike other contestants, Morse dipped her sizzlers in the water.

She explained her strategy in stating, “Because that’s how Kobayashi eats his hot dogs!  I feel that the water broke down most of the wrap.”

The first place winner, David Hersey, explained he signed up because he really likes sizzlers and he wanted to set a record no one could touch.

He said he did prepare for the contest, “My two friends coached me and I ate three sizzlers every day since I received the call.”

Hersey concluded, “This was definitely the last time I’m eating a sizzler – at least for this year.”

Gino Vallante explained he, along with a couple of staff members from the Zorn Dining Commons, created the sizzler seven years ago.

“We were looking for an attractive lunch program that the Night Owl Cafe could make to order for students,” he said.

Vallante said the student center received positive feedback after taste tests. Vallante explained, “Each year the number of students wanting them grew.  Now we’re maxed out.  Last year we did over 62,000 sizzlers.”

The Night Owl Cafe serves 400 to 500 sizzlers each day in the three hours the staff makes them.

There has been constant speculation as to exactly how many calories really are in a sizzler – the truth is there are about 700 calories in one.

Vallante added, “The chicken is baked and there are sauces that aren’t mayonnaise based.  The rest of the vegetables are good for you too, but the pita is cooked in a butter base and the pita does have some calories.” Vallante added he is considering making a “healthy choice” sizzler.

If students think they have what it takes to beat Hersey’s record, they can give their shot at the Sizzler Eating Contest next year.

Colin Daly said the Student Government wants to make the eating contest a tradition.


Kim Borkowski can be contacted at

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