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R.I.P., Eddie Miller

- January 11, 2008

One of my favorite non-fiction genres is the obituary. This may sound ghoulish, but on the obituary page you often encounter some unusually good story-telling and you’re likely to meet up with some memorable characters. My taste for obituaries apparently is shared by many others; hence the profusion of appreciations of the genre and collections of the best exemplars thereof (click here to see for yourself).

Imagine, then, my delight this morning when, while munching on my morning bagel, I espied in the Washington Post Adam Bernstein’s chronicle of the passing and unparalleled achievements of Eddie Miller, “the world’s greatest trencherman.”

What qualified Mr. Miller for a lengthy obituary in one of the nation’s leading newspapers was his gluttony. Among his other accomplishments were the following:

* In one sitting, consuming 27 two-pound chickens, thereby winning him $10,000 and garnering the “world’s greatest trencherman” accolade in the Guinness Book of Records.

* Downing 30 pounds of meatloaf made from elk, buffalo, and other game.

* Eating 324 pieces of ravioli before having to stop because the restaurant ran out.

* Guzzling two quarts of whiskey in an hour.

* And, perhaps most impressively, defeating a lion in a martini-drinking contest.

In his prime, Mr. Miller packed 330 pounds onto his 5’7″ frame. He attributed his unparalleled success to self-confidence, quick reflexes, and good coordination, and he loved extra-inning baseball games because they gave him a chance to eat more hotdogs.

I’ve stolen many of Bernstein’s best punchlines, but for the full obit, click here.