Errol Morris' short documentary about the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition

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A double treat from Errol Morris: a short video documentary about a man who calls himself the Wingador, the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition, and an accompanying essay about Morris' fascination with "champion eaters."

I have been fascinated by champion eaters for over 30 years.

When I was in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1970s I made a pilgrimage to Oakland to visit Eddie Miller, known as Bozo, the world champion chicken-eater. Bozo was in the Guinness World Records book for eating 27 two-pound roast chickens in one sitting. A remarkable feat of gluttony. I remember trying to tell my friend Alice Waters about Bozo, and she clamped her hands over her ears and said, “I just can’t listen to this kind of thing. It’s against everything I stand for.”

Bozo reminded me of Kafka’s Hunger Artist — except in his case it wasn’t fasting, it was the exact opposite. Also, I loved the fact that Bozo called his daughters Cooky, Candy and Honey, and that there was a framed cross-stitched sampler next to his front door that read, “NOTHING EXCEEDS LIKE EXCESS.”

El Wingador


  1. Ed “Bozo” Miller – the name gave me a jolt of recognition.  Back in the early ’70s I got my first Guinness Book of World Records, a 2-inch thick paperback that I literally read the covers off of.  The “Eating” category started off with comments on medical conditions that lead to a morbid desire to overeat or drink, then launched into a stern warning about the health hazards of attempting to set an eating record.  But then came the records themselves: whole roast chickens, oysters, sausages, puddings, gallons of ice cream, yards of ale.  And an awesome number of those records were credited to the dedicated trencherman “Bozo” Miller.

    Those early editions of Guiness were terrific.  Encyclopedic, educational, and determined to be as complete as possible.  Looking at the modern versions, which seem to be targeted squarely at the readers of _People_ and _Us_ magazines and focused on the most absurdly specific and ephemeral “records”, well, it just makes me sad.

  2. That was delightful! I totally want to be Errol Morris when I grow up.

    Wing-eating strikes me as having a subjective element that, say, hot-dog eating lacks, though. El Wingador alludes to this at one point, when he mentions the Wingettes urging his competitor to clean the bones more thoroughly.

    What I’m saying is, wings have kind of an 80/20 thing going on, where most of the meat comes off in the first two or three bites, and the effort/reward ratio falling off asymptotically from there. So what are the competition standards for an “eaten” wing?

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