It all came down to a half-inch piece of bread dangling off the end of a meatball sub, but it was just enough for John Skolfield to achieve glory.
Skolfield was one of six contestants that took part in the first-ever meatball sub-eating competition at DataXu headquarters Thursday afternoon, an event that was sponsored by Al’s Cafés and subshop, a favorite destination for noshing employees at the startup in Fort Point.
For 12 minutes, Skolfield and the other participants, who lined up behind a long, picnic-style table, mounds of Al’s subs to their left and even more in front of them, had to chow down on as many sandwiches as possible, stuffing the meatball-filled bread into their mouths without retching them back up.
For his big win, Skolfield earned a custom meatball sub trophy, the title “Master of the Meatball Sub,” and bragging rights at the water cooler for the foreseeable future.
The competition was the brainchild of some DataXu workers. Back in April, after DataXU CEO Mike Baker’s executive assistant, Jocelyn Sloane, walked by employees putting back foot-long meatball subs, she joked that “nobody could possibly finish a full one.” Months later, the sub-off was born.
At the start of the chow down, after the six contestants came out to their own theme music and greeted a crowd of more than 50 workers huddled around the table full of subs, Skolfield wasn’t in the lead. It was Narin Nhem, later crowned a “fan favorite,” who started strong early on, housing two half-foot subs and making it look easy. Nhem pulled ahead of other contenders, like Linda Sughrue, the only female participant, who managed to put back one meatball sub before slowing down.
“I had to go for self preservation, for the sake of the people I have meetings with later today,” she said of her loss.
As time ticked away on the clock, and co-workers whipped out puke buckets in case any of the sweating sub-eaters couldn’t hold their food, Skolfield eventually caught up, and when the buzzer went off after 12 minutes, it was that small piece of sub roll, poking out ever so slightly from the end of Nhem’s sub, that won Skolfield the crown.
“I’m feeling pretty bad, I’m a little touch-and-go,” said Skolfield, holding up the trophy. “But I wasn’t leaving that table without this.”
Immediately following the competition, Sloane started planning the next challenge with coworkers, compiling a list of possible food items that could be consumed such as butter, oysters, syrup, chicken, wings, or baked beans.
When asked if he would return for the next round, Skolfield quipped, “you’ve got to go for a title defense. You’ve got to represent. That’s the sign of a true champion.”
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