“I came, I ate, I won!”

Haolam Hazeh (This World)  was known as a newspaper that did not shy away from controversy. Its pages were filled with sensationalist interviews and  gossip that shook the country. In November 1953, however, there was a different provocation: in the midst of the Tzena, a period of austerity during which citizens of the State of Israel had to cope with meager food rations that barely lasted the day, the newspaper announced an “eating contest.” They explained: “When we announced the eating contest, we declared that it was a competition without ideology or lofty goals. But we were wrong. It had both an ideology and a goal: laughter.”

Seven candidates arrived at Cafe Kinneret in Tel Aviv: six men and one woman. The rules were simple: the person who eats the maximum number of dishes within one hour will be awarded the title of "Israel’s Eating Champion 1953.” But the dishes served to the competitors were not upscale chef dishes; they were the modest dishes of the Tzena period and included only a small ration of meat as allocated by the food commissioner. The menu also included soup, a bowl of spaghetti, stuffed peppers, vegetable goulash, baked potatoes with sauce, noodles, and a cauliflower. At the end of the competition, two candidates remained: an unemployed driver called Abraham Rapaport from Givatayim, who was eventually forced to withdraw at the advice of his doctors, and the final winner, a hungry 27-year-old student called Itamar Rosenthal. After his victory, the winner loudly declared: “I came, I ate,I won!”

Below is an ad listing products and prices in the 1950's according to the rationing policy introduced during Israel’s austerity period.
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