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610 WIP's Wing Bowl 18 Wing Off at P.J. Whelihan's


The countdown to the buffalo-spattered, beer-soaked day of debauchery known as the annual Wing Bowl has begun! WIP Wing Bowl

Wing-eating enthusiasts recently got a taste of the city's winter tradition, as 610 WIP brought a small-scale competition to P.J. Whelihan's  in Haddon Township. But just because there weren't any wingettes or massive entourages touring the South Jersey restaurant, doesn't mean the competition was any less intense. Amateur-eaters from all over came to the bar for WIP's first wing of eight wing offs -- a wing-eating competition that lands the winner a spot on the risers of the floor of the Wachovia Center on February 5th, to compete against the big stomachs in the 18th Annual Wing Bowl.

Twenty-four competitors signed up for the South Jersey battle, with many of them milling around anxiously in the back bar, waiting for the eating to begin. Some, like Matt Zubak, 20 of Stratford, admitted he was just there for the free wings. WIP officials said they're used to it, however those are the guys who barely stand a chance. Jack Miller, senior accounts manager for WIP, said prior to the competition that the eaters would have to at least clear the meat off 30 bones to even get close to qualifying.

As the competition got underway, the want-to-be wingettes for the evening (PJ's waitresses) started bringing out basket after basket of buffalo-soaked wings and pilled them up on the table to prep for the start.

PJ's, the official wing-provider of the Wing Bowl, had to cook up some 1,200 wings for the wing off -- a fraction compared to the 9,000 they'll make on the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday and cart over to the stadium in the city.

With 24 eager contestants aiming to earn a spot at the Wing Bowl, WIP divided the competition in to three 10 minute heats of eight contestants, who had to eat as many wings as possible. Between the heats, the highest number of each round wasn't revealed to keep the competitors on their toes. WIP Wing Bowl

There was no lack of smack-talking during the night as the wing-eaters dove right in. Some were slugging water to wash down the meat, others gnawing furiously at the bones to put back as many as possible. A few even sported headphones to drown out the jeering, much like the

competitors do the day of. Spotters from WIP lined the front of the table to make sure the wings were picked clean and that no one was cheating. They signaled for another basket of 10 wings as soon as one contestant finished the first.

A few brave ladies, like the "Crushin' Russian" tested their stomachs and wits against some of the braver men in the room, but couldn't hold much of a flame next to them.

And even some of the big guys looked like they couldn't handle the meat, with belching and burping, and lips pursed tight to hold it all in. One guy, during the third round, let it blow. Luckily there was a bucket nearby, and he knew the rules - "you heave you leave!"

But after three heats there was no clear winner. Damaging Doug, Quasi and Cheesecake Beefcake, held a three-way tie with 44 wings each. But after a cigarette break and a two-minute tie-breaker round, Damaging Doug, aka Doug Canavin, who definitely put a hurtin' on his wings and likely the on-lookers stomachs, came out victorious. Winner: Damaging Doug, aka Doug Canavin

Doug, who also won the wing-off last year, has again earned his spot among the other food-eaters for the 18th Wing Bowl. But there's still time to earn a seat if your stomach can handle it. Another wing off will be held on Friday at Rock Bottom  in King of Prussia from 8 p.m until 11 p.m.

Some of this year's contestants include: Super Squib, the defending champion, Bam Bam Wingalow of Lincoln University, Pa., The Wild Turkey of Collegeville, Pa., Hot Pockets of Dresher, Pa., Snack-Jack of Bainbridge, Pa., The Polish Assassin, of Newark, Del., and Hank the Tank of South Philadelphia.

For more information on the Wing Bowl, visit WIP Wing Bowl.