July 15, 2013 9:26:28 AM
CORINTH -- Call it Megatoad versus Jaws and the slugburger.
While about 1,000 people watched, 19-year-old professional gorger Matt Stonie gulped down a record 31 slugburgers to keep his Slugburger Festival title from the nation's top-ranked food-gobbler, Joey Chestnut.
Chestnut downed 30 of the buns and deep-fried patties made of meat and soybean extender, matching Stonie's previous record, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
Stonie's nickname is Megatoad and Chestnut's is Jaws, according to Major League Eating.
Stonie said, "I've been training all year and it's great to come here and beat my old record. Joey put the pressure on. When I heard he was coming I got worried but I did what I had to do."
Stonie said training was difficult because slugburgers are found largely in northeast Mississippi.
Locals have a variety of explanations for the name, according to an extract from Milton Sandy Jr.'s book A Gourmand's Guide To Dining In & Around Corinth on the festival's website.
It could be because they originally cost a nickel -- then called a "slug" -- or because they were hamburger substitutes and circular metal slugs were sometimes used for coins, he wrote. It could be from the meatpacking term "slug" for a dressed forequarter of lamb or mutton.
Some locals think it's because eating too many can make you feel as if you've been slugged in the stomach, Sandy wrote. And, he wrote, especially in the days when they were fried in lard, the patties had to be eaten hot or risk "some visual resemblance to the garden pest."
Going in, Chestnut said he was nervous because he'd never before entered a competition without trying the food first. Afterward he said he enjoyed the burger but had more trouble swallowing than he expected.
While signing autographs, he apologized for not eating more.
"Next year I'll come back and know what I'm getting into and eat more," he said.