Nerz, Ryan 1974–

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Nerz, Ryan 1974–


Born January 13, 1974, in Minneapolis, MN. Education: Graduated from Yale University, 1997.


Home—Brooklyn, NY.


Journalist and writer. Part-time announcer and emcee for the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) at IFOCE-sanctioned competitions.


Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Village Voice and Esquire, to the Web sites Time Out New York and ym, and to television's the History Channel.


Freelance journalist Ryan Nerz's interest in eating contests leads him to both write about them and serve as an emcee for those that are sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). In Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit, Nerz writes about the year he spent in the highest echelons of international competitive eating as an emcee for eating contests involving foods such as meat pies, ribs, hot dogs, baked beans, grilled cheese, jambalaya, raw Maui onions, and watermelon. As an IFOCE enthusiast, Nerz is "more mythifier than journalist," wrote Jay Jennings in the New York Times Book Review. Jennings also commented that Nerz "covers a [wide] range of characters—who are indeed a colorful, varied bunch, even without the pro-wrestling-style personalities the I.F.O.C.E. encourages."

Nerz provides a history of the IFOCE, which began with a hot dog eating contest as a promotion for Nathan's Famous restaurant on Coney Island, New York, in 1916. He details the individual aspects of various international eating competitions and the record-breaking accomplishments of champions, such as Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi, who ate fifty-three and a half hot dogs in twelve minutes at the 2004 Nathan' Famous contest. Nerz also describes former competitive eater Ed Krachie, who developed a theory about competitive eating. His "Belt of Fat Theory," claimed that thinner people may have a physiological advantage over heavier people when competing in eating contests, because they have less fat in their midsection and therefore more room for the stomach to expand, Carlos Orellana observed in a Booklist review. Krachie even sent an essay outlining his theory to the New England Journal of Medicine, where it was promptly rejected. The author takes a humorous look at the IFOCE, eating contests, and their participants, with names such as Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas and "Hungry" Charles Hardy. Nerz also makes a case for eating competitions to be classified as a sport and examines their growing popularity, with the annual Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest being televised live on the Entertainment & Sports Network (ESPN) each year. "Despite disgusting details—vomiting, distended bellies, etc.—Nerz presents his story with glee and good humor," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.

As the author chronicles the secret agendas and hopes and dreams of contestants, he makes the decision to try to become a top eating champion, known in the field as a "gurgitato." Gobbling down dozens of burgers for training and drinking gallons of water to extend his stomach, Nerz suffers from intense pain emanating from his abused stomach. Along with Nerz's adventures, the reader gains insight into the training, gameday strategies, and after-effects of competition. In a Library Journal review, Tim Delaney noted that Nerz's book will be an "eye opener to those unaware of the competitive eating circuit."



Nerz, Ryan, Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2006.


Booklist, March 15, 2006, Carlos Orellana, review of Eat This Book, p. 13.

Library Journal, March 1, 2006, Tim Delaney, review of Eat This Book, p. 107.

New York Times Book Review, May 28, 2006, Jay Jennings, "Gluttons for Reward," review of Eat This Book.

Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of Eat This Book, p. 49.


Eat This Book Web site, (June 17, 2008).