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George Wolf was described on May 12, 1922, as "the Babe Ruth of bowling," but chickens might have had more reason to fear him than bowling pins did.

Wolf's appetite won him recognition in The Times at a bowling banquet held at Crip Binyon's restaurant in Cedar Lake to celebrate the victory of the Kiwanis Club over the Rotary Club. 

"George Wolf, the Babe Ruth of bowling, last night broke all records at Crip Binyon's for chicken eating when he devoured eighteen legs, nine wings, four breasts, three backbones, two necks, one peck of potatoes, four pieces of cherry pie and three cups of coffee," the May 12, 1922, story in The Lake County Times began.

Wolf's story, while nauseating, might not be all that unusual today, in which competitive eating is considered an actual sport. Yes, there's an International Federation of Competitive Eating, overseen by Major League Eating.

Matt "the Megatoad" Stonie is considered the top-ranked competitive eater, having unseated Joey "Jaws" Chestnut as the reigning champion of the 2015 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

But let's get back to 1922 and George Wolf.

"On the return trip from Cedar Lake, Mr. Wolf's weight bent the axle of Bill McAleer's Ford," the story said.

"This morning Mr. Wolf was reported to be unconscious but breathing."

The Rotarians shared the pro-rated cost of Wolf's meal.

"It required the services of two waitresses to carry the chicken to George Wolf and another one to take the bones away," the story said.

That's the kind of detail that helps the reader envision the scene better. This helps, too:

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"After the dinner the chef came into the dining room and asked permission to shake hands with Mr. Wolf.

"'I'm certainly pleased to meet you, Mr. Wolf,' said the chef. 'I would not have believed it possible for one man to eat so many chickens. I thought at first that all the Indiana ex-service men were having a state encampment and had stopped in here for dinner.'"

This being in 1922, that would have been World War I veterans — before the war was numbered.

A little farther from home, Sam Martin made the news on April 13, 1936, for eating 44 fried eggs to celebrate Easter. His previous mark was 50 in four hours.

"Sam said he was denied a new record when the cook became tired and put away her skillet," said the story in The Vidette-Messenger that day.

Martin weighed 148 pounds, the story noted. No axle damage from that weight!

"Recently he ate 30 bananas and frequently has consumed a half gallon of ice cream at one sitting," the story said.

Does that story about a half gallon of ice cream sound familiar? It did to me.

I mentioned Tony Primo in a previous blog post, written about crime in the Great Depression. The story about the ice cream binge was from January 1935, in The Times. Here's an excerpt:

"Two Quarts of Ice Cream is an Appetizer," said one headline that caught my eye.

"Indiana Harbor claims one champion in the person of Tony Primo, popular auto salesman, who this week enjoyed himself when he devoured two quarts of ice cream at one sitting then went home to a large steak dinner," the story said.

"Primo had a bet of one quart of ice cream with Andy Snyder and Snyder refused the bet unless Primo would eat the quart by himself. The young man proved capable and then bet Snyder two dollars that he could eat another. After finishing the second he went to a hearty dinner," the story concluded.

Politics/History Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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