BRIDGEPORT — The 3 1/3-pound Banana Split Helmet Sundae introduced by the White Sox this season was designed to be casually eaten by a family of four.
Pat Bertoletti obliterated it in 2 minutes, 53 seconds.
Of course Bertoletti, of Pilsen, is no ordinary eater. The Morgan Park Academy and Kendall College graduate is a professional eater who holds the distinction of pounding down 55 Nathan's hot dogs in 10 minutes; 94 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes; 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes; 15 1/4 pounds of strawberry shortcake in eight minutes; and 275 pickled jalapeno peppers in an eight-minute stint.
"The biggest thing about being a competitive eater is you have to have something wrong with you mentally, bad wiring," said Bertoletti, 28, who owns the Taco in a Bag restaurant in suburban West Dundee.
Listen to Jackie Kostek recount watching Bertoletti's feat of eats:
"And I've always had this ability to consume really fast."
The sundae — which is served in a plastic replica helmet stuffed with four scoops each of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream and topped with caramel, strawberry and chocolate sauces, bananas, whipped cream and cherries — was only a small sample of the incredible eating display put on by Bertoletti during Monday's 7-3 Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
In a span of about an hour, he wolfed down a bratwurst topped with grilled onions and mustard, corn off the cob, a pierogi, bacon on a stick, a Comiskey burger, a walking taco, fried cheese curds, a chicken-and-waffle sandwich, the sundae and, after that, a plain hot dog. He washed down the gargantuan quantity of food with a large diet Pepsi and a large diet Mountain Dew.
"When I go to the ballpark, I'm looking forward to eating a lot," said Bertoletti, who "trained" for Monday night by fasting all day and drinking lots of water.
Bertoletti's father, Louis, said his son has been crazy about food since he was 5 months old, when he would eat an entire ear of corn cut off the cob.
"He just kept chewing, and there was no corn left," said Louis Bertoletti, a Roseland native who owns Calumet Screw Machine Products in Mokena.
Louis Bertoletti said Pat, the youngest of his five kids, was extremely shy as a child, and eating was a way for him to show his personality.
"Before he couldn't speak in front of a group to save his soul," Louis Bertoletti said. "Since he's been a competitive eater, he can eat 10 pounds in a contest and someone will stick a microphone in front of him, and he can speak intelligently."
The heyday of Bertoletti's eating career lasted from 2006 through 2012. He occasionally enters contests now, but can still consume huge amounts of food when he desires. He has a girlfriend but doesn't "go crazy" ingesting food in front of her — yet.
Bertoletti — who's 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds — said his stomach can hold about 25 pounds of food. He estimated he ate 10 pounds on Monday. The last time he attended a Sox game, Bertoletti said he devoured 10 hot dogs.
The food he bought at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday did not last long; after a few bites on each concession, they were in his stomach.
During the sundae chowdown, Heather Mulchrone watched with a look that was part awe, part horror and part fascination. Mulchrone, the general manager of the Cell's club level, said she's seen two people finish the sundae by themselves in the Sox's 14 home games through Monday. But, she noted, they took about 30 minutes to empty the helmet.
"I've never seen anything like that," Mulchrone said of Bertoletti's accomplishment.
Brooks Boyer, the team's vice president and chief marketing officer, stressed the sundae is "certainly not intended for only one person."
“We always like to be creative and have some fun with our menu, and that’s why we added the sundae," Boyer said. "[It's] definitely not intended to be eaten in under three minutes. More power to Pat Bertoletti, but as the old saying goes, ‘Do not try this at home’ or in this case, at the ballpark.”
One of Bertoletti's goals in life is to have a sandwich named after him. He once approached Dick Duchossois — a fellow Morgan Park Academy alumnus who owns Arlington Park — and asked him to name the racetrack's cafeteria in his honor. He was rebuffed.
Bertoletti predicted he would finish the Sox sundae in "two to three minutes," and after making good on his word, he had trouble keeping still due to a likely sugar high.
He proceeded to a nearby bathroom to clean out the helmet, and then proudly placed the plastic cap on his head for photos.
"Eating ice cream," he said, "makes you feel good."