There’s more than one way to eat a cream puff

Emmitt B. Feldner • forThe Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re going to leave our columnist stranded in the Canadian wilderness for a week - but he’ll get out eventually - while he pays a visit to the County Fair.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’ll do anything for a free cream puff.

That’s why, for the second year in a row, I opened the County Fair with my face in a cream puff.

I was part of the Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Contest the first day of the fair – which to me says that whoever runs this event has a pretty broad definition of the word “celebrity.”

The challenge is to eat a cream puff in the fastest time – but with the handicap of not being able to use your hands.

Figuring that I’d learned a little something after my first time through this a year ago, I took my seat at the table as part of the first of two heats.

Unlike last year, I actually had a rooting section – of sorts – there to cheer me on.

Terry was there with her camera to record my effort for posterity – or more likely, for blackmail.

She was joined by our grandson, Ty, who had his cell phone out to record even more of my ignominy.

When the Fairest of the Fair introduced me to the crowd, she asked me what my goal was for the competition.

“To get through it,” was what I thought was a pretty honest answer.

I actually did have a strategy, based on my experience.

The trick, I decided, was to work my way through the cream puff in layers instead of trying to inhale it all at once – the strategy that failed for me last year.

Thus, I peeled off the top of the puff part and gobbled it down in just a few bites.

A quick glance around showed me that I actually had the lead at this point, so I began sucking up the cream part with renewed confidence.

I was still running strong as I finished off the last of the cream filling, but that was when I pulled my late cream puff swoon.

I would say the bottom fell out of my effort, but it was more like the bottom stuck.

Specifically, the bottom of my puff was stuck to the paper plate and I couldn’t get it loose to start chewing it down.

I was getting about desperate enough to eat the paper plate along with the bottom of the cream puff when I finally worked it loose and began devouring the rest of the puff.

Unfortunately, that took long enough that I had fallen out of contention by this point.

The one rule that had been emphasized before the competition began was that we were not allowed to use our hands.

While I followed that rule assiduously, I couldn’t help but notice that a few of the other competitors, while they didn’t use their hands to eat their cream puff, did use them to retrieve their paper plate whenever it slid away from them.

I considered lodging a protest, but figured that would be considered sour grapes – something I definitely wouldn’t want to eat, with or without my hands.

It’s probably just as well I didn’t win, since the winners of the two heats faced off over a fully-loaded baked potato in a hands-less eat-off.

I’m not too sure if I could have handled a fully-loaded baked potato on top of a cream puff – that might have left me far too fully-loaded.

I spent some time a few days later with another grandson, Aiden, who convinced me to go on the Tilt-a-Whirl with him and his mother.

I can only say that he would never have talked me into it if it had been right after the cream puff eating contest.

Aiden did talk me into getting a bag of mini-donuts before we headed to the midway, but I let him eat most of them.

What few I did eat I managed to keep down despite spinning around on the Tilt-a-Whirl, fortunately.

Aiden did the same as well, although he did enough screaming on the ride for the three of us combined.

I have a feeling he really wasn’t that scared by the ride, he just liked to have an excuse to scream and make noise – which, I guess, is one of the things the County Fair is all about.

I did manage to bookend the fair by stopping with Terry right before we left to have another cream puff.

I ate this one without using my hands, too – except to hold the fork, of course.

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