Where is Dale Boone?

When Dale Boone finally boarded the plane for India many Americans sighed in relief. Dale had offended so many so often that he had become, arguably, the most hated man in competitive eating.

Dale's most egregious offense -- putting aside for a moment his looks, mannerisms and accent -- is his disrespect for fellow competitors. When he referred to Carlene LeFevre as "granny" in an Atlanta Nathan's qualifier, he alienated women, seniors and all those IFOCE staff members with a refined sense of character.

Dale's performance at the table has rarely matched his pre-contest braggadocio. In fact, Dale is known for a hair-trigger epiglotis and he rarely wins a contest. It is only in the sprint that he excells.

Sadly, the 84 Lumber Baked Bean contest is tailor made for Dale's talents. It is a speed contest with a loose, easy-to-eat food and Dale has dominated, winning three contests in 2004. He beat both Badlands Booker and Sonya Thomas.

Now, with an 84 Lumber event scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, in Phoenix, AZ, eaters have begun to fear that Dale will end his trip to India. They fear that Dale will walk into the arena cackling and waving his bell, looking for another win.

To some this is the worst case scenario. But to others it would be welcome. For them, the ifoce is just not the same without Dale Boone on American soil.