The pair had recently setting a shrimp-eating record on the East Coast, where Beckham ate 600 and Smithhart managed 300. They had stopped before they were done because they didn’t want to make the other contestants feel bad.
“I had the Destroyer (one of the shop’s largest standard sandwiches) last night and I wasn’t even full,” Beckham bragged as they watched the sandwich’s construction. He figured they could break the record by at least five minutes.
The first two feet of the sandwich was gone in 11 minutes but, according to Edmunson, the rest of the contest was an uphill battle. The gastronomic duo kept up a light-hearted banter throughout the contest.
“I wonder if Alka-Seltzer is free today,” said Smithhart.
“I wonder when they’ll eat their next sub sandwich,” Edmunson said.
“It won’t be for dessert,” said Beckham.
At 38 minutes about five inches of the sub remained, and Smithhart was overloaded. But Beckham had a plan. When Edmunson said there was a minute left to break the record, Beckham yanked out his dentures and chucked them into his soft drink. He then crushed the remaining segments of the sandwich and crammed them into his mouth. Official time: 39 minutes and 31 seconds — a new record.
After the record-breaking event was completed, Edmunson awarded each man a coupon for a free regular-sized sub. “I hope this doesn’t have an expiration date,” Beckham quipped.
Previous record holder John Hood later said he had a lot of respect for the pair. “All I have to say is they need to carry the crown with pride. They are carrying on a long tradition of great gastronomic effort. I doubt if there will be a rematch.”
Robert Smithhart, left, and Fred Beckham eyeball a four-foot, seven-pound submarine sandwich they will attempt to eat in under 40 minutes at Pendleton's Sub Shop No. 3 on Jan. 15, 1989. (EO file photo)