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New York City subway conductor Eric "Badlands" Booker tips the scales at about 360 pounds, while South Korea-born Sonya Thomas weighs in at barely 100.
They're both major league competitive eaters who will be featured in contests at this weekend's 10th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival in Coca Cola Field.
On Friday, Booker and Thomas joined Major League Eating founder George Shea as the latest inductees to the Buffalo Wing "Hall of Flame" in a ceremony to kick off this weekend's festival.
Previous inductees have included the creators of the Buffalo wing, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo in 2006 and, over the years, various promoters of what has become one of Buffalo's greatest food exports. This year, said National Buffalo Wing Festival founder Drew Cerza, it was time to honor the folks who actually consume the most wings.
Thomas, who is the world record chicken wing eating champion, was delayed from attending Friday's induction ceremony, but Booker and Shea were front and center.
"I'm actually from New York City, but every Labor Day weekend, I live here," said Booker, who has participated in the wing festival every year since 2004.
"I just fell in love with it instantly. I even made a [rap] song about it," he added, before launching into his rap extolling the virtues of Buffalo, the Buffalo wing and Cerza, the self-proclaimed "wing king."
Booker's personal record is 178 wings consumed in 12 minutes.
"It's more mental," he explained. "You get to a point where, usually five minutes into the contest, your mind says go but your body says no, and you've got to get past that. That's where the athleticism comes in.
"Wings is more technique as opposed to mere volume," he continued. "You've got to have good hand to wing to mouth dexterity in order to do well at wings,"
Most people are not cut out to do what Booker and Thomas do, said Shea, whose organization puts on as many as 80 competitive eating contests every year, including the ones featured in this weekend's festival.
"Everything that's good about any food becomes challenging after a while - flavor, texture, anything - and the body says stop. The good eaters get past that," Shea said.
Competitive Eating, the governing body for the sport, was started in 1997, Shea added.
"If you look online today, there's probably 50 [such contests] this weekend. It didn't used to be that way 20 years ago, but we have an organized circuit, prize money and real professional eaters. It's a very tight-knit community," said Shea.
For those who are more into sampling a wide variety of wing styles, this weekend's festival will feature recipes from around the country that were dreamed up by those competing for the best wing.
Chris Neilsen and his brother, Daryl, are the owners of Moosehead Grill in Charlotte, N.C., are among the competitors.
"We want to win," said Chris Neilsen. "We won the contest in Charlotte when they did a little Southeast version of it last year. We won with the Killer Bees [style chicken wing], which is honey habanero with a touch of mango. They're absolutely delicious."
Their other entries include a style they call Uncle Donnie's Blackened Wings and a Thai peanut butter and jelly-flavored wing. "It wigs people out in the beginning. They don't want to try it, but once they get it, it's wonderful," said Chris Neilsen.
Daryl Neilsen speculated about the seemingly universal appeal of the humble Buffalo wing.
"The appeal for it? I think it's because people really want hot stuff in their mouth. It's just a spicy rendition of anything, you know. If you have a nice food, it's great. But you see people just trying to make it spicier, whether it's with pepper or something else. They want that spice," said Daryl Neilsen.
"It gets the endorphins going. I mean, it's the heat and you get a little energy from that. People love sweating," he added.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com