Today’s folklore is a little early, yet a little late. Once was, Wookie Hole, the famous caves in Somerset, held an annual mince pie eating competition. Only they held it at the end of October/beginning of November. Which frankly felt a little too early for me to be busting out the festive fancies. So to celebrate this tradition, I held my own version of it today, still too early for Christmas, but a little late for Wookie Hole.
Joining me was a crack team of speed eaters. While we weren’t going to attempt the Wookie Hole standard of 40 mince pies in 10 minutes, we were definitely up for some sort of pastry challenge. And when I say we, I mean they. I am not feeling at my best today, and the thought of gobbling down a mince pie at speed was turning my stomach even more. But I haven’t written every day for 320 days just to fall at the last hurdle. We folklorists are hardcore. Plus I had a bin next to me in case of emergency.
First to join me on the call was Claire. Claire was sporting a laden plate of Sainsbury’s bakery pies. Second was GloBarb. Her pies weren’t just any pies, hers were M&S pies. Third came Em. Em had done her research, the Mr Kipling pies she’d bought earlier were too big, so she’d swapped them for Tesco’s which were normal size and wouldn’t ruin her competition. Susannah was next with a batch of gluten free, dairy free Co-op pies. Then came Andy and Freya with a platter of Lidl Favorina pies. And last, but not least, Hildegunn joined with an all butter Aldi pie with brandy and cognac. We all felt a bit jealous when we heard that. And I had a box of GF, DF pies from The Foods of Athenry. I had been planning to make my own for bonus folklore points, but thought it unwise when I woke up this morning.
The plan was to hold two rounds. The first was who could eat a pie the fastest. The second was who could eat the most pies in a minute. I came clean and declared that I was only going to do the first one but was quite happy to adjudicate the second.
Ready, we all unsheathed our pies (so no one was foiled by the foil), held them to the camera, and I counted, 3, 2, 1, eat!
Fuck me mince pies are difficult to eat at speed. Even with the adrenaline pumping, the clag gagged me within two bites. And then predictably I started laughing and it was downhill after that. But I wasn’t the only one. Looking at the screen there were various states of dismay trying to chow down. Meanwhile, my pie fell apart, scattering in my hand and onto my lap below.
And then it was all over. Em did her best Keith Flint Firestarter impression at the camera to show all had been swallowed, closely followed by Susannah in second place, and then Freya third, leaving the rest of us to finish our crumbs without the threat of needing the Heimlich manoeuvre.
As all of us had found stuffing our gobs to be much more of a challenge than we’d thought, we all agreed that one round was enough.
So should you wish to recreate your very own mince pie eating competition, here’s what you need to know:
Flavour: 3/5 nisser, Easy to eat: 2/5 nisser. It was actually not too bad. I’m glad I bought the expensive fancy ones hahah.Hildegunn on her Aldi’s pies (Hildegunn being Norwegian is scoring in gnome)
Despite the surprisingly large depth of my pies and slow start with a large first bite I was surprised to come second! I may be thrown by it being the first mince pie of the season but give mine 8/10.Susannah on her Co-op pies
Pie pressure produced poor performance 😞GloBarb critiquing her outing rather than her M&S pies
These mince pies might look and taste delicious but become somewhat glue like when stuffing into one’s face like a maniac. Delicious but hard work. 3/10 for speed eating.Claire on her Sainsbury’s bakery pies
That’s actually not the pie I went with, that’s the intense Mr Kipling. I had Tesco’s instead. 8/10 – they lose a mark because they were more expensive than Lidl but essentially the same product. The trick was breaking the pie in half and eating it in two goes I think. Yes I might have researched competitive eating beforehand…From Em, the Champion
The Favorina mince pie from Lidl £1.49 for 12! Bargain. Great overall taste but a bit claggy for speed eating. 7 out of 10.From Andy and Freya on their Lidl pies
Disintegrated after one bite and my mouth felt like I’d stuck a whole Christmas pud in there rather than just a bit of pie. Tasted delicious though. 3/10 for speed, 7/10 for taste.Finally from me on my The Foods of Athenry pies
So there you go. A huge, huge thank you to everyone for taking part! And big congratulations to the winner and runners up. I’d been dreading the thought of food, but I laughed so much I forgot all about it. I’m now off to chew some fennel seeds to help my stomach, and maybe have a little lie down. Back with you tomorrow. With more food.
The Everyday Lore Project has been running since St Distaff’s Day on 7 January 2020 and will run until 12th Night on 6 January 2021. You should subscribe. As a treat. Much like the brandy and mince pie you’ll leave for Santa on Christmas Eve. And the fennel seeds, if you’re kind.