Pressure Project 2: Competitive Eater Probe Kit



Short Description: We are analyzing the competitive eating community. We were brainstorming ideas and came upon competitive eaters and all agreed.

Alisher: Kobayashi first piqued my interest when I saw him down 60+ hot dogs. It should not be humanly possible for that to happen.
Jonathan: I’ve seen a few competitive eaters before (on  youtube and elsewhere) and always wondered how they started doing it.
Dominic:  Watched an anime episode about eating, was thoroughly entranced.  <;
Jae: Subscribed to FuriousPete channel on Youtube. Peter Czerwinski is a competitive eater with over 2 million subscribers.

Links:                                                                             <;                                        <;

Physical Aspect

  • Give printouts of multiple foods and have them to arrange them in order of their strategy to eat them during a competition (in 90 seconds or less)
  • Using the same printouts, have them group them in no particular way at all
  • Word association activity
  • A journal to record a week’s worth of meals and the results from the previous activities


The kit will be mailed out to all participants and should take 7 days to complete once received. The participant will record their responses from the initial activities into the journal and then record their meals for the week in the rest of the pages. On the 7th day, the kit will be mailed back and results will be analyzed.

The Kit



The lunchbox is more of a container for the kit, rather than the kit itself. The lunchbox holds all of the other parts of the kit inside of it. Our hope is that it gives the user a pleasant first impression to our kit. Inside the lunchbox is the contents of the kit – the journal, a link to the survey and the food printouts.

Word Association Activity


The word association activity will contain words like pain and comfort to see what the connection the participant makes with certain words. There will be 12 flashcards and in the instructions, the participant will be told not to look through them before beginning. The participant will look through them and then upon each flashcard, write down the first word that popped up into their head. This activity would reveal if there is a deeper connection between competitive eaters and food or if they are all different from one another.

Words: Hot dogs, kitchen, bathroom, wings, pain, love, comfort, stress, ribs, doctor, exercise, water

Meal Journal


The food journal will initially be a place to record the participant’s results from the food printouts and word association activities. It will then basically be a place to record what the person ate for a week. They would not have to think about dieting, counting calories or exercise. They will be told to go about their eating habits as normal but just record their meals. They will record their meals for 6 days and on the 7th day, write a reflection on what they thought about their normal diet and how it compares to the days/weeks before a competition.

Food Printouts


The food printouts are the final item in the kit. The user will be given a variety of different printouts, each with a different food on them. Then, in under 90 seconds, the user will then arrange the printouts in the order that they would eat those items in a competitive eating competition. Once the time is up, each user will record the reasoning behind choosing the specific ordering.

After they record their explanations, we would have them to then place the food printouts into groups. There would be no direction given as to what “type” of groups should be made. The goal of this would be to see how the users categorize the foods (i.e. by their sweetness, difficulty in eating, etc).

The overall purpose of this activity is to get an inside look at the thought process behind competitive eating. Will there be trends that each competitive eater shows when choosing the order? Will different eaters prefer to eat foods in different orders? Each user giving us his/her reasoning behind the ordering will also really help us to understand if there are trends or techniques that are common across all competitive eating or if the ordering really depends on the specific eater.

List of Food Printouts:

  • hot dogs
  • wings
  • hard shell tacos
  • steak
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • chocolate cake
  • saltine crackers
  • raw onions
  • sardines
  • ribs

Instructions for Kit

  • Open kit (lunchbox)
  • Take out the food printouts bag, word association pack and the journal
  • Start a timer for 90 seconds and order the food printouts in the order that you would eat them during a competition
  • Record why you ordered them the way you did in the journal provided
  • Go back to the printouts and now group them in any way you see best fit
  • Record your reasoning in the journal provided
  • Take the word association pack and make sure not to look at the inner cards as you take them out
  • Start with the “Start Here” card and flip through the cards
  • With each new word, right down the first word that pops into your head into the journal
  • Keep flipping through the cards and recording the resulting words
  • Use the rest of the journal to record every meal and snack for the next 7 days
  • On the 7th day, record a reflection and compare to a competition week
  • Please mail kit back once completed
  • Thank you


Hand holding fork:,1260299725,11/stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-icon-isolated-in-a-modern-style-depicting-a-hand-holding-a-fork-42460636.jpg


hot dogs:









Individual Reflections

Alisher: Overall it was a fun pressure project. We brainstormed ideas at first and started implementing them but realized they weren’t really the best options. We threw out some old ideas and came up with better ones. It was kind of hard to stay broad with a group like competitive eaters but we got the job done. I have always been interested in how these people do what they do but have never actually competed so it was personally beneficial to set up a probing kit for this community.

For our kit, I think it would benefit a competitive eater because they would be able to reflect on their profession and hopefully come out of it with a better understanding of their work. One hope would be to help these competitive eaters refine their techniques or reflect not their connection to food. For us as a group, since we were all interested in probing this community, it would be beneficial to learn more about the inner workings of competitive eaters.

The probe process in general is intriguing because it gathers so much data in an open ended manner. You never know what the result will be but with every probing kit discussed in class, the team the built the kit learned a great amount about the target community. One possible weakness would be an undesirable outcome that negatively affects the participants themselves. Overall though, it is evident that the probe process has more benefits than downfalls.


Dominic:  Our design process was fairly straightforward.  During class, we discussed areas of interest concerning the competitive eating community, then proceeded to brainstorm ways in which to probe.  Initially our probe ideas were very closed ended, composed of specific questions pertaining to food.  After some further deliberation, we opened up our ideas and began to develop more open-ended activities.

As for our kit, even after opening up our probing ideas, our questions and activities may still be too highly coupled to the activity of eating itself.  In this way, our kit may be less concerned with understanding the set of values common to competitive eaters, than concerned with the specifics of eating.  I suppose it all depends on the goals of our probe kit.  Are we trying to fundamentally understand competitive eaters as people, or are we trying to dig deeper into the “world” of competitive eating?



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