Recapping the Super Important Tater-Tot Eating Competition




At 6’ 7”, Chance DeWerth, 29, probably doesn’t need a strategy for eating. But he has one anyway. “It’s all mental. Your mind tells you you’re full, but you have to push on. I just put music on and don’t think about it,” he says. You might assume he can’t ignore the aftermath (to put it tactfully), but he says doesn’t have problems there either. What a trooper.

The self-proclaimed “cause of the 2012 potato famine,” DeWerth has been eating competitively for three years now. He once ate a large pizza in 21 seconds. He also boasts almost 4 pounds of wings in three minutes. And on Sunday, he brought his talents to West 6th, the locale of the fifth annual Rock the Tot, a national tater tot eating contest hosted by Bar Louie. Four other guys competed too, but as non-natives, we don’t really care about them.

Just as the name suggests, the contestants had 8 pounds of Oreida tater tots placed in front of them. Whoever downed the most won free tots for life and a trophy reminiscent of the Stanley Cup. But more importantly, free tots.

So we have a Clevelander eating delicious little nuggets of nostalgia for a national competition held this year in Cleveland. You can’t make this shit up. Unfortunately, DeWerth didn’t win. His less-than-immaculate consumption landed him third place. And Connecticutt-resident Jamie McDonald, who ate a sickening 5 pounds 4 ounces, took first. “It feels great. I didn’t think I would beat Bob,” McDonald says.

That wasn’t the first time someone alluded to the great Bob of Pittsburgh (who has reached first name status with the likes of Madonna and Cher). A dude at the bar said that Bob once rescued an infant from the clutches of a demon cobra. Another spectator regaled the time Bob won American Idol. Alright, none of that happened. But Bob, the smallest and oldest competitor, did eat more than 6 pounds of tots to qualify for the national round—the most out of anyone. And with this crowd, that’s a big fucking deal. But DeWerth has a rebuttal for that: he didn’t eat any tots in the last minute during his qualify round in Lakewood. The last basket was fresh out of the fryer, too hot to eat. Occupational hazard, we suppose.

Speaking of the crowd, a giant tater tot entertained them all afternoon—quite possibly the best part of the competition. Lou D’Ambrosio, a Bar Louie manager from the Burgh, fashioned said costume out of, essentially, a mattress topper, a few hula hoops, and spray paint. “That’s actually from my bed,” D’Ambrosio says pointing to the life-size foam tot. “Don’t worry, I bought a new one.” Next year, he wants to send the plans to all the Bar Louies. Great idea, but leave Bob at home. He’s scary.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.