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Contestants Bite off More Than They Can Chew at Snooty's Lettuce Eating Competition
By Murray Devine / July 16, 2014
Contestants Bite off More Than They Can Chew at Snooty's Lettuce Eating Competition
Yesterday, five of the best and brightest Manatee County community personalities came together to go head to head in  “Snooty’s Lettuce Eating Contest” at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. The contest was part of an effort to raise awareness for the care that is required for the manatees that reside at the South Florida Museum as well as promote the Birthday Bash for Snooty, the world’s oldest known manatee, happening on Saturday, July 19.


The three SFM manatees can eat up to 75,000 pounds of lettuce and vegetables this year combined, at a cost of $75,000. That’s a lot of “green.” The Museum is currently raising funds to help with manatee care through “Carrie’s Match for the Manatees.” A generous donor, Carrie Yearwood, offered $40,000 in matching funds to benefit manatee care at the Museum. She wanted to challenge our community to help feed and house these gentle creatures. Another donor added to Carrie’s original match, bringing the total to $50,000 available matching dollars to help the Museum raise up to a total of $100,000 for manatee care.   

Competitors:

John Horne – Owner, Anna Maria Oyster Bar
John Annis – VP of Community Impact, Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Johnette Isham – Executive Director, Realize Bradenton
Megan Jourdan – Health Educator and Media Liaison, Florida Department of Health in Manatee County
Lynn Lineman – South Florida Museum Board of Trustees 

Official Manatee Eating Consultant and Referee:
Marilyn Margold – Museum Director of Living Collections

Judges:
Jennifer Gans – Museum Supporter
Jackie Barron – Mosaic, presenting Sponsor of Snooty’s 66th Birthday Bash
Tom Tryon – Opinion Editor, Herald-Tribune


The tables were set with “salad bars,” a device used by the manatee care technicians to feed the manatees in the museum. As the competitors and judges entered the room it was clear that everyone was ready for the challenge ahead. Our very own Senior Vice President of Community Investment, John Annis, was one of the challengers and divulged that his winning strategy was eating only a danish for breakfast to warm up his stomach. Competitors had 10 minutes to eat as much lettuce as possible, while demonstrating their personal style. The twist was that each contestant were not able to use their hands to eat, but would instead be supplied with “manatee mitts” to simulate manatee flippers. Participants could choose to eat “wild style” – face first into their provided greens or “Snooty style” – with a Manatee Care Specialist hand feeding them their meal. 

As the starting gun sounded, the contestants immediately started filling their mouths with lettuce in their own unique style, while Art Ross of the Bradenton Marauders provided commentary for the spectacle. John, a retired Marine, decided to employ a focused and mission-driven technique by emptying the entire salad bar into a large mountain of greens in front of him before using his “flippers” to strategically split apart the hearts of lettuce.  Before long, chaos ensued as the challengers decided to fill their mouths with trash talk, rather than lettuce, and resorted to bribing the judges and starting a food fight. 
After it was all over the judges collaborated and awarded points to participants on a scale of 1-10. Megan Jourdan, the youngest of the group, took first place and was awarded the prize of a large Snooty plush.  But it was not in vain  for the losers; each of them received a consolation prize and award. Although John couldn’t bring us back any glory, he did manage to earn the “Table Manners Award,” for best exhibition of manatee eating techniques.     
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