When food eating contestants come to mind, many recall Davie "Lardass" Hogan from the movie Stand By Me, or Takeru Kobayashi, the hot dog eating champ out of Japan. But every now and then, along comes an anomaly that stuns the competitive eating world, a la Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas - the Korean-born, 100-pound human garbage disposal who currently holds 33 world records.
On Cinco de Mayo, flanked by mariachis, salsa bands and mechanical bull riders, Fullen bested four male competitors in a Bob Armstrong Queso* eating contest at Dallas' Mattito's restaurant to win a prize coveted by many a Texan; free Bob Armstrong Queso for an entire year.
Using only a chip, Fullen deftly slurped down 2 pounds and 14 ounces of Bob Armstrong Queso in five minutes to send her competition home with nothing more to show for their efforts than an stomach ache.
Fullen said the boys were talking smack beforehand but that, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."
Here is how she brought home the prize:
While her competitors employed different tactics in attacking their individual 10-pound buckets of cheese, Fullen hovered her chin low over the trough to maximize the revolutions per minute her hand could make while quickly ferrying the cheese from bucket to face. Her technique was streamlined and her success enviable. Her competitors, well, they weren't nearly as successful.
One man narrowly escaped ejection, or at least he should have been ejected, as he dipped both hands into the queso in an attempt to capture more cheese than the chip could carry (rules stipulated only chips could carry cheese), but most of the queso simply slid off his hand and back into the bucket before he could get it into his mouth anyway. Another competitor playfully dabbed at the queso with a single chip, while trying to, apparently, stomach what he had already taken down that wasn't really agreeing with him. Others tried a more "Tortoise and the Hare" approach, but it was the speedy and petite Fullen who ultimately came out on top.
"I read that if you wiggle back and forth while you were eating, it moved the food down to the stomach faster. So, I tried that," said Fullen.
Crowned the queso queen, feeling more than a little full and mostly "horrible," Fullen was presented with a trophy to be adorned with her name and displayed in the restaurant. But, more importantly, she was handed a one-of-a-kind credit card that allows her free Bob Armstrong Queso for a full year.
"My friends are already hitting me up. I have a feeling it [eating Bob Armstrong Queso] might be a weekly event," Fullen said.
Fullen, forgoing any traditional competitive eating preparation, said she entered the competition largely on a lark inspired by her love of chili con queso. With her queso-affection being a long-running joke amongst friends, her decision to enter the competition was easy. With the competition now off her bucket list, Fullen said it was her first, and last, foray into the world of competitive eating.
But what about defending her title next year? She responded with a quick, "I don't think so," but then slowly recanted. "As of now I'm not. Give me a year. There are things you can do to prepare," Fullen said, laughing.
*(For the uninitiated, Bob Armstrong-style queso is traditional chili con queso with taco meat, guacamole and sour cream. It's named after a former Texas politician who requested the dish at Matt's El Rancho restaurant in Austin so much that it was eventually named after him.)