Michael Ebersole, a York City Police Officer, takes the final bite of his sandwich at the charity Burger Battle at Smokey Bones in West Manchester
Michael Ebersole, a York City Police Officer, takes the final bite of his sandwich at the charity Burger Battle at Smokey Bones in West Manchester Township. (Steven Goeller photo)

Eating a burger at speed and under the pressure of a ticking clock is easy compared to chowing on a grilled chicken sandwich under the same circumstance, said one of York City's finest.

Detective First Class Jeff Spence gave his fellow officers a break Wednesday night as he opted to feast on the chicken Parmesan sandwich during the Burger Battle, a charity food-eating contest, at Smokey Bones in West Manchester Township.

The detective deduced that since burgers are made of ground beef, they'd be easier to chew since the meat is already ground. The chicken, on the other hand, is not and requires more effort to get down.

"Chicken is not ground. It's chunky and takes more time to chew," Spence said.

For his effort, Spence not only gained the new nickname of CPG, which stands for Chicken Parmesan Guy, but also helped his team pull off a gut-wrenching win over its competition from Thornton Chevrolet in Manchester. Each team had six members.

Charity: With a time of 24 minutes 30 seconds, the city police team is now in contention with other winning teams from across the country.

Contests were held at 32 Smokey Bones restaurants, and the fastest team overall will receive $5,000 for a charity.

The police officers selected the department's Chaplain's Corps as its potential recipient while Thornton Chevrolet selected the York-Adams Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The national winner will likely be announced Monday, said Lisa Sweeney, Smokey Bones spokeswoman.

The third annual contest was a relay format. One team member started eating at the sound of an airhorn, and the next teammate couldn't start eating until the first had finished.

Despite a losing effort, Devon Sciortino, Thornton's marketing and public relations manager, said he and his teammates had fun.

He added that how long it took to eat each burger and how much effort was involved surprised him.

"I thought we'd take six or seven minutes, but we were going on 25 minutes when it ended," Sciortino said.

Technique: Part of the problem was the amount of fixings on the burgers, Sciortino said. On top of the traditional lettuce, tomatoes and onion, one burger had bacon while another had a fried egg.

Lt. Erik Kleynen took the route of dissecting the massive burger, removing the meat from the bun and fixings, which he ate after downing the meat.

Also making up the city police team were officers Mike Davis, James Knarr, Michael Ebersole and Jason Jay.

Lt. Gene Fells, who said there were some guys he "personally went after," handpicked part of the team.

Spence, who pointed out that he was the smallest man on the team, joked that he was one of the much sought-after recruits.

"They heard that I was kind of carnivorous," he said.

Fells not only put together the team, but he also served as a back-up if one of the officers went down with an injury before the contest started.

"I was ready to step in," he said. "I didn't eat anything all day."

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.