Tuesday, May 02, 2006


By Linda Tribbles

One of Karl’s passions was Scrabble tournaments. And, according to the newspaper, a tournament was set for that afternoon at the town armory. So imagine how Karl felt when he arrived and realized that, in his haste, he had misread the announcement: This was no Scrabble tournament, it was an eating contest: the Pennsylvania Dutch Scrapple Challenge.

Karl was disappointed, of course, but he decided to sit down with the other contestants anyway. The whistle blew, and he began shoveling handfuls of steaming scrapple into his mouth. The spirit of competition seized him, and soon he forgot about triple-word scores and seven-letter bonuses and became singularly focused on the seemingly endless mounds of pulpy porcine scraps heaped in front of him. The crowd rose to its feet with deafening applause. Even the other contestants had to stop and admire the heroic ferocity with which he was devouring his scrapple. The breathless Fleck County Scrapple Queen placed the crown on his head before he was even finished eating.

Driving home, all Karl could think about was winning more scrapple contests. His wife had never seen him so happy and full of life, and the love they made that evening was the deepest and most meaningful of their long marriage.

Who knows how brightly Karl’s star might have shone, had a man with a slight speech impediment not told him about a contest the following weekend. Alas, it was not another scrapple challenge, but rather the Stapleton Medical Equipment Annual Scalpel Challenge, and Karl’s defeat would be both swift and unsightly.

(Today’s story by Linda Tribbles is the first of what she hopes will be many tales involving regional culinary delights.)


Anonymous said...

Some say that Karl Milford was one of the most promising young stars of competitive scrapple eating.

Before the scalpel incident, none other than eight-time Scrapple Champ Afton Munge, Jr. called Karl "a modern day Cerberus ... the next great force in American scrapple eating."

I was there that magical September night when Karl showed the scrapple world what kind of competitor he was. There were at least 80 of us in the audience night, and we watched breathlessly as he shovelled spoonful upon heaping spoonful into his gaping maw. His flannel-covered arm was slow and cautious at first, but it soon became mechanical, rythmic, hypnotic. The Matterhorn of scrapple before him disappeared in an instant. Gaping-eyed contest coordinators rushed mounds more of the gristled globs to his feeding trough, only to have it vanish before this insatiable beast.

Karl made every spectator there that night proud to be Pennsylvania Dutch. Proud to be American. Proud to be alive. What a heroic performance. What a goddamned magnificent man.

I was there and I had the honor of crowning him champion.

-- Harriet Hotzclaw, 1982 Fleck County Scrapple Queen

Anonymous said...

thanks for the irrelevant and self-serving link on Salon.com!

Linda Tribbles (Author) said...

That's it! One more disparaging comment from either of those smug Hooper children, and they'll feel the sting of my hickory switch!

Now, what the heck is a "Salon.com"?