American Eaters Poll -- Pass the Pasta

America.s top eaters have spoken and the message is clear . their pasta consumption has not decreased despite the low carbohydrate diet phenomenon. The remarkable results are part of The American Eaters Poll, the first in a series of polls exploring eating habits and food views among the nation.s competitive eaters.

The poll was conducted by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, the world body that develops, runs and promotes eating as a sport. The poll, conducted on Oct. 9, 2003, and Oct. 10, 2003, queried a pool of more than 1,000 eating athletes (mostly male, mostly weighing between 151 and 200 pounds), including the 100 top-ranked eaters in the world.

Of the 171 respondents, 65 percent of respondents said they eat pasta five times each month or more. Nearly 31 percent eat pasta eight times a month and 17.5 percent eat pasta 10 times or more each month.

A full 71 percent said that their pasta consumption has either increased or remained the same in the past five years (the period during which the Atkins Diet has risen in popularity). Approximately 34 percent said their consumption has increased, 37 percent said their consumption has remained the same and only 29 percent said their consumption has decreased. However, of the respondents who said their pasta consumption had decreased, 61 percent attributed the decrease to an attempt to reduce carbohydrate intake.

.The results of this poll are a slap in the face to the carbohydrate-haters of this nation,. said George Shea, Chair of the IFOCE. .Among America.s true eaters, pasta remains an attractive daily entrée choice..

Shea speculated that this was the beginning of a backlash against the high-protein, low-carbohydrate fad, and he predicted a bounce soon in the potato category.

Marinara was by far and away the most popular sauce, securing a full 31 percent of the vote for favorite sauce. Bolognese sauce came in second with 20 percent of the vote, and Alfredo sauce in third place with 19 percent of the tally. Pesto, red clam and putanesca sauces appear to be out with America.s big eaters, with each receiving 5 percent or less of the vote.

In a remarkable surprise, angel hair pasta stomped all other types of pasta, grabbing 25 percent of the vote. Traditional spaghetti (No. 8) and penne were virtually neck and neck, taking 17.5 percent and 16 percent of the tally, respectively. Shells and macaroni fared poorly in popularity, each garnering just 5 percent of the votes.

There was some confusion among respondents over the etymology of Alfredo sauce. While 43 percent correctly identified Alfredo as a reference to its namesake, Italian chef Alfredo di Lello, a full 30 percent incorrectly said it referred to dining outside (which is, in fact, .al fresco.) and 13 percent thought it referred to Michael Corleone.s brother in The Godfather (who was, in fact, Fredo Corleone). Sadly, for historians, 11 percent of respondents believed that Alfredo sauce was named after Frederick the Conquerer.

Of the respondents, 88 percent were male, with 67 percent of all participants between the ages of 18 and 34, and 23 percent between the ages of 35 and 44. A full 40 percent weighed between 151 and 200 pounds; 25 percent weighed between 201 and 250 pounds.

The American Eaters Poll series will explore eating and food subjects among approximately 1,000 of the United States. top eaters. Subjects will include: the stature of mashed potatoes in the Thanksgiving meal, the number of eggs that comprise the ideal omelet, the best complement to a beer (cracker, potato chip, cheese curl or peanut?), etc.