By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The stalwart athletes are standing in a half-circle, sizing each other up while their handlers prep and fawn over them. You can cut the tension with a knife -- a cake knife. Okay, truthfully, the "stalwart athletes" are a bunch of youngish dudes, and their "handlers" are their young, attractive fiancées. But it definitely feels like a weigh-in before a big boxing match here at the Bridal Extravaganza at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where ten men (and their future brides) have gathered for the show's first ever Groom's Cake Eating Contest. The grooms have three minutes to down as much of a standard-size sheet cake as possible. The lucky winner walks away with an all-expenses-paid honeymoon trip to Jamaica. The losers walk away with mouths and bellies full of slimy sheet cake.
I'm here to add some commentary (read: smart-ass wisecracking), alongside the ridiculously lovely and talented Miss Texas, Lauren Lanning. Backstage, in preparation, the guys start smack-talking (one guy calls himself "The Bottomless Pit"; another threatens to get a divorce and show up again next year if he loses).
On stage, Lanning sashays down the catwalk as she explains the contest to the hooting crowd. She and I share some warm-up banter, then it's time for me to bring out the contestants. Using my best PA voice, I call out the players: "At five foot ten and 200 pounds, from Spring: Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for 'The Bottomless Pit,' Garrrrrry!" Then I urge the crowd to give props to the studly Travis (five foot 11, 185 pounds), who's from the Houston Fire Department, and Samuel, who at six foot five and 310 pounds is already my favorite to win.
Lanning and I lead the crowd in a countdown, and then it's on. Per the rules, each bride slices a piece of cake and places it on a paper plate for her groom to devour. As I stroll the "sideline" behind the contestants, I note their techniques to the audience: "Umberto is balling up the pieces, folks, and Brandon seems to be double-fisting! Oh, is Patrick gagging!?" The guys are frantically swallowing. Some chug water, some give their future wives a "please kill me" look of despair.
Time! As the audience erupts, Phillip from Cleveland turns and barfs into a trash can. "We've got a puker!" I announce to Lanning. The winner, not surprising, is the giant Samuel, who has polished off nearly the entire cake. "I just ate real fast," he drawls during a postgame interview as he hugs his bride.
Note to Samuel's wedding planner: Better order one huge cake.