|From left, Joshua Deutsch, Binyamin Fuld, 11, and Racheli Fuld, 9, each won a division of the pickle-eating contest. Josh Lipowsky|
Teaneck’s gastronomic gladiators met in the salty trenches on Monday for a sour showdown to claim the title of pickle-eating champion.
Contestants lined up outside of Pickle Licious on Cedar Lane for the store’s annual pickle-eating contest, facing down a half-gallon of pickles (20 in each bucket). They chose their weapons: sour, half-sour, or new pickles, and armed themselves with a quart of water as they chowed down to see who could eat the most within eight minutes. (This reporter claimed the title in 2011, downing 20 pickles in less than 10 minutes. This year, however, the Force was not with him. Read on.)
As the dust cleared, Joshua Deutsch, a 61-year-old mashgiach from Teaneck, stood triumphant. He had finished all 20 pickles in the bucket, but, he lamented, he did not have time to start on the second half-gallon before him. (This reporter finished 19 and was about to finish No. 20 when time was called. He blames the sweltering temperatures and promises to redeem himself next year.)
For the second year in a row, Mr. Deutsch claimed the title. Last year he devoured full-sours, which he said are easier to chew and that’s important when eating for time. This year he went with the half-sours, a decision he regrets. They are harder to chew, he said.
“The technique is very important,” Mr. Deutsch said. “You have to drink a lot. Just drink as you’re eating. Don’t try to beat the clock because you’ll gag.”
For his efforts Mr. Deutsch will get a quart of pickles each month for a year. After the contest, Pickle Licious showed off a new line of relishes on top of free hotdogs provided by Ma’adan. The pickles were the appetizer and the hotdogs were the main course, Mr. Deutsch said. And for dessert? He went into the store to sample Pickle Licious’ olive selection and pick up his first quart – horseradish pickles – as well as $60 worth of other products.
Mr. Deutsch is no stranger to eating contests. He’s won the Ma’adan latke-eating contest two years in a row and won last year’s Pickle Licious contest. (This reporter again took second last year). The most difficult contest, though? About 15 years ago the Jewish Community Council of Teaneck held a community Purim party with a hamantaschen-eating contest. The dry hamantaschen were “a tough job on the jaw,” and “tougher than any of these other contests,” he said.
Pickle Licious has been holding the contest for several years, but this is the first time it did so in front of its Cedar Lane store, said owner Robyn Samra, aka “the Pickle Lady,” noting it until now had been held at the Memorial Day street fair or at the old store. It’s just fun, she said, promising that the annual contest would continue.
Teenagers and adults competed in one division, and children under 14 were in another. Binyamin Fuld, 11, and his sister Racheli, 9, won the boys and girls categories, respectively, in the children’s division. Both live in Teaneck and go to school at Yeshivat Noam. Binyamin, who plans to enter again next year, has never done a pickle-eating contest before. His favorites are the new pickle, because “it’s not too sour and just good tasting.”
And isn’t that really what it comes down to with pickles?