Eddie Miller, 89; Ace Chowhound Ate His Gut Out
Friday, January 11, 2008
Eddie "Bozo" Miller, 89, an icon of gluttony who claimed to have bested man -- and beast -- in outrageous displays of eating and drinking, died Jan. 7 at his home in Oakland, Calif. He had diabetes and heart trouble.
Mr. Miller held many jobs, including as bookie and liquor salesman, but he gained his widest following for championship-level gorging. He was 5-foot-7 and, in his peak form, weighed 330 pounds and stretched 57 inches at belt level.
He won renown in record books and newspaper columns for his competitive drive.
In 1963, he downed 27 chickens (2-pound pullets) at Trader Vic's restaurant in San Francisco, a feat that earned him $10,000 and led to a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the "world's greatest trencherman," or heavy eater.
His Guinness entry said Mr. Miller "consumed up to 25,000 calories a day, or more than 11 times recommended," and noted that he was "undefeated in eating contests since 1931."
He once downed 30 pounds of meatloaf made from elk, buffalo and other game. In another test, he ate 324 pieces of ravioli and said that he could have eaten more but that the restaurant ran out. He also guzzled two quarts of whiskey in an hour.
In his heyday, he said, he beat a lion in a martini-drinking contest.
"Some guy from the circus came into the restaurant -- Reno Barsocchini's, I think -- with a lion on a leash," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I drank them out of a glass, and they put the martinis on a soup plate for the lion. I maybe had about a dozen. The lion, he kept lapping them up until he just fell asleep."
He took his food seriously, training for two weeks before big matches by cramming food until he could take no more.
The New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte named Mr. Miller one of the top 10 sportsmen of the year in 1968 along with boxer Sonny Liston and football player Alex Karras.
Mr. Miller told Lipsyte that self-confidence, quick reflexes and good coordination were important ingredients for eating success.
Of his medium stature, he said: "Height means nothing. . . . You get these ballplayers, 6-7 or 6-8, even one who weighs close to 300 pounds, he doesn't have a properly stretched stomach."