The Opelika Fire Department gave up the rights to their Big Bite Battle trophy to the Auburn Fire Department Tuesday after their defeat last month in the relay competition in Burger Wars 2021, but Opelika Fire Chief Shane Boyd said his team was more determined than ever to win next year.
“[The loss] motivated them to do better next year more so than anything else,” Boyd said. “They’re fired up already.”
Boyd said he attributed his department’s loss to the preparedness of their rival department as well as the speed with which Auburn’s Julianna McCracken was able to devour a large, burger-shaped dessert provided by Niffer’s against Opelika’s own Zachary “Bubba” Sorenson.
“They brought a secret weapon,” Boyd said. “They brought a 120-pound firefighter that out-ate my 220-pound monster. They were just better prepared than we were is what it looked like to me.”
Auburn Fire Chief John Lankford attributes his department’s victory to their enthusiasm and pride in competing against their sister city in the long-awaited competition and praised McCracken’s performance in particular.
“The challenge of eating the dessert which, in my opinion, was rather large and Firefighter McCracken is not a very large person, but she did amazingly well eating that large piece of cake,” Lankford said.
The Opelika Fire Department claimed victory in the food-eating-relay competition in both 2018 and 2019. After the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Opelika lost the 2021 Big Bite Battle on June 5.
Despite Auburn’s victory this year, Lankford said his department wouldn’t slack off or become complacent in their training for next year’s event.
“It helps bring both departments together, and no matter who wins we both have a great time doing it,” Lankford said. “I’m not worried about complacency. I’m sure the guys and gals that want to compete in it will be practicing for next year.”
In Opelika, Boyd said his department was thinking of changing up their training regimen and potentially some teammates in order to reclaim the trophy at Burger Wars 2022.
“We’ll start a little earlier and relook at our team makeup and see if we need to substitute some people who didn’t perform well this year,” Boyd said.