Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style

Almost 60 years ago, 40 youngsters with empty stomachs prepared for a contest of feasting upon desserts of apple, cherry, boysenberry, or pineapple. We found this playful article while we were doing research and knew we had to write about it. As a plus, we were delighted to connect this article to a collection we have of The Daily Times negatives. The Davenport, Iowa Daily Times Newspaper Morgue Collection holds thousands of images taken by the staff of The Daily Times in the early 1960s of a variety of events and places they reported on. During this time period Davenport’s two major newspapers, The Daily Times and The Democrat and Leader, merged to form the Times-Democrat. Some issues of the newspapers published had headers stating The Daily Times or the Times-Democrat.

In the article, three young Davenporters, Decker Ploehn, Pat Duffy, and Tom Genz are featured testing out their pie-eating skills at Garfield Playground. They, unfortunately, did not win the prize: a ribbon and a pie. It appears that they had fun and left satisfied. The fastest eater was Phil Kent who “downed the whole pie in exactly 53 seconds.” He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Byron Kent of 3103 Middle Road.

“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style.” The Daily Times. August 13, 1962, page 19.

Photographs by Bob Swanson of The Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa

“Decker Ploehn anxiously watches the timekeeper as he downs a large piece of pie. Watching his technique are other boys and girls whose turns were still coming up.”
“Halfway through his wedge of pie, little Pat Duffy has to stop to chew and catch his breath as playmates do their best to distract him.”
“A systematic pie eater is Tom Genz. He took small, but rapid, bites and appeared unmindful that he was racing against the clock. Time still came out in the Garfield Playground contest as one capable of completing a full meal in a half-hour lunch period.”

We traced the popularity of pie-eating contests through the pages and years of the newspaper from 1905 to 1991. In the photo gallery below, we would like to share some fun events featuring activities of devouring this versatile dessert. They range from school and employee picnics to festivals and fairs.

We would like to delight your taste buds and inspire you to have your own pie-eating contests with recipes from our Local Cookbook Collection. We attempted to select recipes based on the four flavors from the 1962 Davenport Playground Style Pie-Eating Contest. The only recipe we were unable to find was one for boysenberry.


“Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style” The Daily Times vol. 76, August 13, 1962, page 19

(Posted by Kathryn and Cristina)

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2 Responses to Pie Eating – Davenport Playground Style

  1. norm prince says:

    Very interesting story as it involved events from my early youth, which at times I forget is now history. BUT I was wondering about your mention that the photos came from the Quad-City Times. I may be incorrect but was that paper in publication back in the 1960’s??? I remember the Rock Island Argus and the Times from Moline and a Davenport paper.

    • SCblogger says:

      Thank you for both reading our blog and also the question. When these photos were published, the newspaper was The Daily Times during the week and on Sundays it was The Sunday Times-Democrat which was an edition put out by both Davenport papers of the time, The Daily Times and The Democrat. To make it more confusing, when the two papers did merge to become the Quad City-Times all the negatives/photos taken by both papers in the late 1950s into the 1960s were given to the Quad City-Times. We actually go back and search which paper a photo from that time period was printed in to make sure we have the correct source when we answer questions or work on blog articles. We went back and re-read our phrasing in this blog and did make a slight change to hopefully clear up the confusion. We are also hopefully that we didn’t confuse the situation more with this answer!

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