On Sept. 21, McGill’s Lower Field teemed with anticipation, excitement, and dozens of students nervously clutching heads of lettuce. At first glance, the circle of students could be mistaken for a colony of hungry rabbits; in actuality, it was just the Lettuce Club’s third annual lettuce-eating competition.
In the centre stood Eric Zhao, U2 Science, dressed to the nines in a full-sized lettuce costume—a lab coat bedecked with flowing green streamers. Zhao was last year’s winner and crowned Lettuce Head, making him the facilitator of this year’s competition. Students walked up to the table in the centre of the field to check in and weigh their lettuce, which had to be a minimum of 600 grams. As the competition was about to start, some students shared their thoughts with The Tribune.
“I woke up this morning super nervous, but I’m ready,” Maria Cooper, a Geography major at McGill on exchange, said. “McGill lettuce club is one of the main reasons I chose this school for exchange.”
Zoe Mozola, U2 Science, shared her reasons for joining the competition, delving into her family’s deep roots with the vegetable.
“I have a long family tradition, we just pass around a head of lettuce and eat it with our bare hands,” Mozola said.
For others such as U0 Arts student Eve Piget, lettuce is a part of everyday life.
“I just really love eating lettuce, I eat at least a head of lettuce every single day,” Piget told The Tribune.
Many shared their passion for lettuce, with some even skipping class to attend the acclaimed competition.
Though there was a range of students at the competition—some, hardcore lettuce-eating athletes and others, simply dragged along by their friends—the competition exuded a welcoming and fun atmosphere.
“I really like the vibe of the club. It felt really open and accepting, even though I accidentally bought a cabbage,” Arieh Rosenthal, U1 Education, said.
The field was packed by the competition’s kick-off. Everyone chanted the countdown. Ten… nine…. eight… The adrenaline was building. Seven… six… Hands began to shake and sweat. Five… four… Students took their last gulps of air. Three, two, one—and they were off!
Students came prepared with various strategies to chow down. The calmer of them sat cross-legged on the grass, peacefully ripping off leaves and munching as fast as they could. The most intense remained standing, leaning over and gnawinggrasping at the lettuce with their bare teeth. These participants filled the atmosphere with sounds of gagging, a mixture of drool and water splattered on t-shirts, and huddles of friends cheering them on loudly.
Everyone’s eyes whipped across the field to see who was making the most progress. In just over two minutes, a winner had prevailed: Jacob Lofaro, U2 Engineering, varsity rower, and now McGill’s proud 2023-24 Lettuce Head.
Lofaro was crowded by students, reporters, and Zhao himself, congratulating his successor and patting him on the back. Everyone wanted to know: How did he do it?
Luckily, The Tribune secured an interview with the star.
“I’m feeling full because I actually ate a massive lunch like 40 minutes ago,” Lofaro said between burps. “I made a nice vinaigrette, half balsamic vinegar, half olive oil,” he shared.
Lofaro had only heard about the competition 30 minutes before it began and came with his friends after his hearty lunch. It was simply a matter of pure skill that Lofaro had managed to stuff down a full head of lettuce in just about 120 seconds.
Zhao was congratulatory and spoke about Lofaro’s win after taking off the lettuce coat and putting it on Lofaro’s back.
“It feels like passing the mantle, I had a great year of being lettuce head at McGill and [am] happy to see someone else take the crown, but I’m ready to come back next year—do not worry,” Zhao told The Tribune.
Overall, the competition had a great turnout, and everyone left with a smile (and a little piece of lettuce) on their face.