Atx SXSW 2012
Food TV

Eating for America: The Hungry Todd Rungy Show hits the streets and a screen near you

Eating for America: The Hungry Todd Rungy Show hits the streets and a screen near you

Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_todd rungry
Hungry Todd Rungry Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_competitors
Todd Rungry and the competitors. Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_sign
Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_burrito
Photo by Michael Graupmann
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_todd rungry
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_competitors
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_sign
Austin Photo Set: News_Mike_hungry Todd rungy 2_eating_march 2012_burrito

"He's American! He's Todd Rungy! Fighting for freedom, fighting to eeeeeeeat!"

Perhaps you saw him handing out swag and making new friends at SXSW this year, or maybe you've seen webisodes of Todd Rungy's exploits on the internet. If you haven't caught the competitive eating fever yet, Austin, it's coming your way and it's wrapped in the American flag.

With the hardest working team in showbiz backing him, including an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign, Rungy is now searching for a home on television to expand his ministry of "Eatin' for America." Austin film director Joshua Riehl has been recording Rungy's every bite since day one and has recently completed the pilot episode of The Hungry Todd Rungy Show.

Filled with the hysterical exploits of one man who embraces our patriotic penchant for excess, the show is Riehl's passion project for the city that is as much a character in the show as Rungy himself. Adventurous Austin grazers will recognize the trailers, tacquerias and tiendas that keep our great city fed — just not usually to the degree that Rungy is eating.

Riehl, a graduate from the Radio, Television and Film department at the University of Texas has been busily editing the nearly 250 hours of footage from the past four months of shooting in order to constitute the first season of the show. SXSW proved the perfect opportunity to get Rungy and the show out in the public and seen by the right eyes.

Part of that mission was a Texas-sized eating contest co-hosted by The Hungry Todd Rungy Show and regular partner Torchy's Tacos at the South First Trailer Park. Having found Rungy online, Torchy's Marketing Director Danielle Neighbors contacted Riehl to set up a SXSW eating challenge that would feature some of Austin's favorite trailer tacos.

After some clever brainstorming, the Torchy's SpecTACOlar Showdown was born. Despite all the hulabaloo downtown, a healthy showing of curious bystanders gathered to watch the spectacle of 12 grown men speed-eating two giant Torchy's Ace of Spades tacos. Eric "The Lizard Man" Sprague hosted the event that pitted Rungy against long-time Torchy's fans, one of Torchy's co-owners and even career competitive eater Randy Harrison, fresh off his win from Home Slice's Carnival o' Pizza.

The American-clad Rungy put up a noble fight, but in the end, a construction worker by the name of Fred Jeziorkowski was crowned the champion, winning the title, the trophy and a $100 gift card to Torchy's. A still-hungry Harrison accepted Torchy's challenge to claim a separate prize if he could finish a specially-made seven pound Ridonculous taco. (He might still be finishing it...)

The Torchy's SpecTACOlar Showdown is the perfect example of crazy stunts and good-natured humor that have been a part of the show from the get-go. "I remember one time Todd ate a ghost pepper, and it was like all the mucuous membranes in his face exploded at the same time," recalls Rungy's brother and trainer, Dick Rungy, who has seen his share of awesomely gross behavior during the filming process.

"Todd actually doesn't do fried eggs," Riehl revealed to us before the bout. "So this eating contest is not just about beating others; it's about beating his own fear." Overcoming his food phobias is a strong element of the story arc in the first season of The Hungry Todd Rungy Show, Riehl reveals. And what metaphor could be better for a patriotic competitive eater than overcoming his own greatest obstacles?

A true American hero, ladies and gentleman. Eating for your right to assemble, speak your mind and own guns. Clearly, also a true Texan. Raise your forks in salute.

"He's American! He's Todd Rungy! Fighting for freedom, fighting to eeeeeeeat!"

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Watch the first episode of The Hungry Todd Rungy Show on their website. And support his fight for freedom on Facebook and Twitter.