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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 10:01 GMT
Health drive hitting pie eaters
Harry's Bar supervisor Andrew Deacon (picture courtesy of MEN Syndication)
Pie eaters now just need to eat one pie in the quickest time
One of the last bastions of gluttony - the pie-eating contest - has fallen victim to the healthy eating lobby.

Competitors in the world championship, held at Harry's Bar in Wigan, used to gobble up as many meat and potato pies as they could in three minutes.

But the new champion will be the pie eater who can put away a single pie in the shortest time - and in 2006 there is even a vegetarian option.

Organisers say they are recognising the government's drive to cut obesity.

But some competitors are unhappy with the changes to the competition, held annually at the bar in Wallgate.

Dave Smyth, 48, from Hindley, won the first contest in 1992 when he ate four pies in three minutes.

He said: "This contest has always been about savouring as many pies as possible over a three-minute period, not sprinting through a few mouthfuls of a single pie.

"They've taken things too far this year pies are supposed to be meat and potato and anything else just isn't normal."

Tony Callaghan
Tony Callaghan said the pies had to meet strict criteria

Organiser Tony Callaghan, owner of Harry's Bar, indicated that the competition had to move with the times.

"I realise it may be controversial, but this is the way forward for pie-eating at this level," said Mr Callaghan.

"It will make for an exciting sporting spectacle, whilst also doffing its cap to government guidelines on obesity."

He said the introduction of a separate vegetarian competition came after "relentless pressure" from the Vegetarian Society.


The pies consumed at the contest have to meet strict criteria.

Pies must have a diameter of 12cm (4.7ins) with a depth of 3.5cm (1.4ins) - with a consistency neither too runny nor crumbly.

Vegetarian pie-eaters in the competition will be allowed to eat a slightly smaller version because of its more glutinous content.

"We will not stop competitors from entering both championships - so there is every possibility we will have a double world champion for the first time," Mr Callaghan added.

The "pie-eater" term given to Wiganers dates back to the 1920s, when miners in the town were forced back to work before the end of a strike.

As a result they were said to have eaten "humble pie".

The World Pie Eating Championship takes place at Harry's Bar on 16 December.

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