Category: Society / December 14, 2012 6:07 PM EST
The World Pie Eating Championships wrapped up the calendar year in England on Wednesday, as contestants attempted to finish off a pie that's 12cm in diameter and 3.5cms in depth as quickly as possible.
Held at Harry's Bar in Wigan in the North West of England, competition is so fierce gravy has been banned from use as it allows you to swallow the pie quicker. There have even been cases of contestants attempting to gain an unfair advantage by using cough syrup to make it easier to get the pie down - an approach that is now strictly banned.
Yet as "Pie Master" and organiser Tony Callaghan explains, it's a fun event that taps into the history the city has with the pastry.
"Tradition goes we're called "pie eaters" because at the turn of the century the miners went on strike with the unions throughout the country and Wiganers needed to eat, as everybody needs to eat. They went back to work and then it's just got "pie eaters" because we've gone back to work and the reason the miners went back to work is because they wanted food and its just stuck we're pie eaters from there. We're very proud pie eaters."
So what is the best approach to eating a meat and potato pie as quickly as possible? Well according to one contestant there's only one way to do it.
"Big bites, very big bites because I love pies," says Lee McClarence.
A brief, but intense event that kicked off a "pie-noon", this year's competition, nicknamed the Pielympics, saw a new record as local man Martin Clair scoffed his pie down in 23.53 seconds, almosthalf a second better than the Championships' previous best time.
"We were going on about and me mate came and picked me up and brought me down. Not had anything to eat this morning so I was quite hungry and went for it really," explains Clair.
And after the packed pub had watched the quick competition, there was of course enough time for the rest of the spectators to enjoy their own traditional Wigan lunch - a hot pie.