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Valor in victories while vying for pie

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Tal Allen of Lake Park, Iowa, shows off his winning technique in the pie eating contest Saturday morning in Lake Park.1 / 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Keith Nitzschke, Lake Park, Iowa fills his face during the pie eating contest Saturday morning in Lake Park. Nitzschke took second place in the event.2 / 2

LAKE PARK, Iowa -- In an epic contest of speed and will, Tal Allen triumphed Saturday over seven other competitors with a feat of digestive supremacy, consuming an entire cherry pie in just a few minutes -- with his hands behind his back.

Actually, all the participants in the pie-eating contest were required to have their hands behind their backs, as they vied to devour either a cherry or a blueberry pie faster than anyone else during Lake Park's Farmer Appreciation Days.

Allen was a dark horse in the pie-eating competition after having been roped into the contest by friends on the way over. He hadn't expected to win.

Shockingly, Allen ate his whipped cream-smothered cherry pie faster than the other men despite having already consumed a three-egg cheese omelet for breakfast.

"I don't feel so bad," Allen remarked afterward.

His strategy was simply eating as fast as he possibly could, but if he had to do it over again, Allen said he would have switched pies from cherry to blueberry, having been under the impression that the blueberry pies were apple.

Betty Kluver made the pies for the competition, each a substantial creation with plenty of cherry or blueberry filling and smothered with generous amounts of whipped cream, slurped up quickly by contest participants.

Patti McNab, owner of Stan's Corner, which sponsored the pie-eating contest, hopes to make the competition an annual one.

The idea for the event began as a conversation about the possibility of having a hot dog-eating contest, but McNab pointed out everyone does hot dog-eating contests, and asked why not pie instead.

Keith Nitzschke, the second-place winner in the pie-eating contest, also chose cherry, and he fully intends to participate in the contest next year. His strategy was to eat the pie from the top down rather than trying to eat a vertical chunk at a time.

Neither Nitzschke nor Allen had ever participated in a pie-eating contest before.

"I'm a marathon pie eater, not a sprinter," Nitzschke said. "I love pie."

According to Nitzschke, eating the whipped cream from the top of the pie may have been a mistake, because the more solid filling and crust might have gone down faster if it had gone down first.

"They talked Tal into it, and he out-pied me!" Nitzschke said ruefully.

Dick Packebush took third place pie-eating honors, the only member of the winners' circle to choose blueberry.

All three winners were given trophies. The first- and second-place winners were both offered pies to take home along with their trophies.

"No more cherry!" Allen said, and brought home a blueberry pie.