Manassas Journal Messenger | Teams, professional eater, devour sundaes

Three four-person teams –a nd a professional eater — dug into more than six pounds of frozen custard sundaes Saturday afternoon to determine who could eat the treat the fastest.

“Bite, bite, bite, drink,” coached John Andre of Lake Ridge to the team of teen and preteen girls who huddled around a large mixing bowl-sized sundae called the OutrageouSplit at BR Frozen Custard and Sweets in Lake Ridge.

The shop hosted its First Charity Chowdown with proceeds of sales throughout the day benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

The challenge was to eat the nine scoops of frozen custard, nine toppings, three bananas, three cherries and whipped cream. The previous record was 24 minutes.

Techniques varied among the challengers but they all had been clued in on the secret to eating frozen custard, or any other frozen food, without getting a sudden throbbing in their heads, sometimes called a “brain freeze.”

“As long as you take drinks of water, you will be fine,” said Ian “The Invader” Hickman of Sterling, before the contest began. As a professional competitive eater, he should know.

Last year, he ate a seven-pound Ben & Jerry’s “Vermonster” sundae in nine minutes, 22 seconds and won the contest.

Hickman, 24, competes on the professional eating circuit, as a weekend hobby and travels to such places as Boston, Chicago, Wisconsin, New York and Maryland. His day job is a billing consultant for Booz Allen Hamiliton in McLean.

“If it’s edible, I’ll eat it,” Hickman said. Being able to polishing off a 64-ounce steak, baked potato and salad in 21 minutes a couple of years ago convinced him to take on competitive eating.

Hickman’s professional technique on Saturday was a constant shoveling of sundae scoops into his mouth, pausing after every few swallows for a couple of gulps of water.

Another team comprised of four guys in their 20s also had a constant rhythm going of scooping and drinking water. They, however, turned the big bowl periodically to ensure that each member had equal bites of all the sundae’s ingredients.

“Don’t get nuts if you are going to do this,” said Laurie Elder, a member of the third competing team.

The Lake Ridge girls — Alyssa Andre, 14; Alex Andre, 12; Kelly Cipriani, 15; and Caitlyn Bernard, 12 — started off strong but soon lost momentum. “It’s like Thanksgiving when at the beginning everyone is excited about eating everything,” John Andre said.

They gave up before the allotted 24 minutes. “I knew we wouldn’t win but I think we did really good,” Allysa said.

The professional eater’s toughest competition proved to be the four guys, friends of his, who were determined to settle a grudge match. They had competed against Hickman last year in the Ben & Jerry’s contest and lost.

That didn’t happen again. They beat Hickman’s time by 16 seconds.

John Beeman, Jesse Engebretson, Steve Ramos and Drew Campbell, all from Northern Virginia, polished off the OutrageouSplit in 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Hickman’s time was 6 minutes, 47 seconds.

The third place team of Angie Decao of Woodbridge; Laurie Elder and her daughter Alexis of Lake Ridge and Bianca Talbert of Stafford, finished their sundae in 11 minutes, six seconds. Alexis and Bianca are high school juniors.

The winning team did express a few side effects from the contest. “My teeth hurt,” said Ramos. “My tongue feels thick,” said Campbell.

Hickman, however, did not appear to be phased. “They didn’t beat me by much,” he said. “In 30 minutes, I’ll be ready to eat lunch.”

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