Wing Bowl 21 is taking final shape - even if shape hardly describes most of its contestants.
This evening, a Wing Off at SugarHouse Casino will be the last official shot for wannabes to qualify for 94 WIP's annual gnawtyfest. The wing-eating contest, open to any area resident, begins at 6 p.m., with the victor going on to the Wing Off finals, Jan. 24 at the Doylestown PJ Whelihan's.
The soldout Wing Bowl itself is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 1, starting about 6 a.m., at the Wells Fargo Center. (A thousand tickets, though, are available at www.StubHub.com from about $20 to more than $100.)
This morning, in perhaps the last in-studio stunt, Johnny XL - gotta be spelled like the initials for "extra large," not "excel," ya think? - wolfed down 20 grilled cheeses and a liter of tomato soup in 12 minutes to join Oink Oink, Snack Jack, Gascious Clay and more than a dozen other chowhounds, who ate everything from cow tongue to Twinkies, to join this year's amateur division.
Earlier, "Elvis" - described by cohost Keith Jones as "fat and almost dead" - failed to eat 10 peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches in 10 minutes.
A new Wing Bowl anthem was also approved by morning emcee Angelo Cataldi and cohost Al Morganti - even though the lyrics might make even Miss Alabama fan Brent Musburger blush.
One line, as sung by Rick the Manager: "Honey flashes in the stands, I wonder who brought her / Please kind in mind that she's somebody's daughter."
"Wing Bowl! Wing Bowl! Wing Bowl!" it starts off. "I can clean my wings," Rick sings, with a woman adding, "Just like that." Then she sings, "He can clean his wings," and he adds, "Just like that."
A concordance would include the terms heave, puking, projectile broth, burp, gas and rack.
Morganti, the inventor of Wing Bowl and its commissioner, was nervous about Cataldi's idea to let Rick perform the piece live at halftime.
A new wrinkle for Wing Bowl is the addition of a top category featuring three-time champ Jonathan "Super" Squibb" taking on eating-contest winners from four other cities - Dallas, Chicago, New York and Washington - and New England. They'll compete for $20,000 cash, a Wing Bowl Champion ring and a gold medal from Steven Singer Jewelers.
Jamie "The Bear" McDonald of Connecticut qualified by eating five dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts in nine minutes.
To rile the crowd, the interlopers will wear the attire of teams despised in Philly, like the Dallas Cowboys, Cataldi said on-air.
Not returning to defend his title is professional eater Takeru Kobayashi, who destroyed the field last year, inhaling a record-shattering 337 wings.
The creation of two divisions was a way to ensure real competition and suspense this year, according to Cataldi.
Those in the second tier are not only competing for a new Nissan Pathfinder, they could add the $20,000, too, by tallying the event's highest total of wings.
The top entourage in the event-opening parade will get a dozen trips to a resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and the best of the Wingettes -- helpers who, unlike most contestants, enhance the event's visual qualities -- will win a Harley Davidson Sportster.