Landscape Gardener Wins World Nettle Eating Championship

Mack DreyfussContributor IJuly 5, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 29:  The Phillie Phantic's birthday was celebrated by a man eating fire prior to the game with the Phillies and Marlins on April 29, 2007 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Phillies defeated the Marlins 6 to 1. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

The Bottle Inn is a pub located in Dorset County, England, in a town called Marshwood. A historic argument occurred there between two farmers in 1986. The argument was over who had the longest nettles.

Nettles are weeds that possess hair-like needles on their leaves, which cause a painful and itchy rash when touched.

The pub landlord, Rory MacLeod, reported that during this legendary argument, one of the farmers dared to say that he would, “Eat any nettle of yours that is longer than mine.”

Little did they know that the nettle eating that followed would become an annual competition, drawing people from across the globe. 

Only sixty five competitors are allowed to compete. Nettles are supplied by contest organizers to prevent tampering with nettle-toxins. No mouth numbing agents are allowed. Competitors remove the leaves from the stems and eat them. Their empty stems are measured at the conclusion of the contest and whoever has the longest length of stems wins. The competition lasts for one hour and no nettles are allowed to be “expelled from the body” during that hour.

Some dubbed him “the human lawn mower.” Mike Hobbs, a landscape-gardener from West Knighton, England, is the official 2009 World Stinging Nettle Eating Champion. He swallowed forty eight feet of nettles washed down by twelve pints of his favorite alcoholic beverage: Addlestones Premium Cloudy Cider. His face turned black and green, and his throat was so badly stung that he couldn't speak for two days afterward. 

He won a crate of beer and a cup with World Stinging Nettle Eating Champion engraved on it.