About 70 entrants got piggy for the holidays Saturday at the Indiana Welcome Center, imitating the famous Mommy's Little Piggy scene in the yule-tide comedy "A Christmas Story."
On the word "go," children's heads went into the sticky mound of mash on each contestant's blue plate and the potatoes were given their licking. Parents shouted advice and cheered.
Tyler Raschke, of Hammond, said there was no secret to his record clocking of 58.8 seconds in the 8-to-12 age group.
"I just eat," Raschke said.
He also did not eat anything, including breakfast, since the night before, his dad let on.
Unless one knows about the 1983 comedy "A Christmas Story," based on the writings of local author Jean Shepherd, a mashed-potato eating contest might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to celebrating the holidays.
But for region dwellers, it's different.
"It's all about building family traditions and building up love for 'A Christmas Story,' said Nicole Mackowski, South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Director of Public and Community Relations.
At the same time, officials said the event helped the region put its best face forward, so to speak.
"The point is not to get the mashed potatoes on your face, it's to get them off the plate and keep them off your face," authority CEO Speros Batistatos said in giving out directions before the first heat. "It's important to blend speed and accuracy."
Local grocer Strack & Van Til provided the mashed potatoes, Batistatos said. A number of contestants pronounced them "good."
Most top contestants at the morning event, like Raschke, gave away few secrets after performances that left other contestants gaping at them with potato-caked mouths.
"Take the plate and lick it," said Peyton Richardson, after clocking a 1 minute, 7.5 second winning time in the 4-to-7 age group.
Peyton may have benefited from some good advice beforehand, as his dad John was the winner last year in the 18-and-over age group.
Chris Corralez also was not giving away any inside knowledge after clocking a best time of 1 minute, 25.2 seconds in his heat of the 8-to-12 age group.
"I don't know," he said when asked what the secret was. "I just ate 'em."