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Pickle Lovers Race to Devour Sours at Carnegie Deli

By DNAinfo Staff on May 18, 2011 7:26pm  | Updated on May 19, 2011 6:55am

By Gabriela Resto-Montero

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — They relished the competition.

A pack of pickle enthusiasts sunk their teeth into a contest at the Carnegie Deli Wednesday, racing to devour fistfuls of the vinegary vegetables to celebrate National Pickle Week.

Cool-as-a-cucumber Mike "The Skinny" Hoffman emerged victorious from the belch-inducing bout on Seventh Avenue and 54th Street after inhaling nearly two pounds of pickles in the allotted five minutes.

"It was delicious," said Hoffman, 29, of Long Island.

The financial analyst tried his luck in the contest twice before without placing in the top three but came prepared this time around with a pac-man "eating machine" shirt.

"It felt right and it went well," he said of scarfing down 1.81 pounds of whole pickles.

Each of the ten participants was given a bowl filled with four pounds of pickles along with a glass of water and were cheered on by passing tourists and assorted pickle fanatics.

"It's not as easy you think," Sandy Levine, the owner of Carnegie Deli said to the crowd as the contestants dug in.

"You think you can eat a lot of pickles? You can't do it," Levine said.

Third-place finisher Brenda Mathis, who was visiting New York from Boston and wolfed down just over a pound of pickles, just happened upon the contest and thought she'd give it a try.

"I'm just hungry," Mathis said before the contest. "I came here for pickles last night."

Francis Arpaia, of Brooklyn, finished second after packing in 1.35 pounds.

"I just really love pickles," Arpaia said.