I remember someone telling me about falling in love with their wife when he saw her for the first time — legit love at first sight. The best way he could describe the feeling was just by saying, “When I saw her, I just knew.”
That’s the same feeling I had when I saw a video of a group of Germans shoving tobacco snuff up their noses for a competition.
When I saw it, I just knew it would be a column.
Yes, around 220 men and women gathered in the small Bavarian village of Kucha to fill their nostrils with tobacco for the German Tobacco Sniffing Championship.
Now, I know what you’re saying, that tobacco can only be smoked, pinched between the cheek and gum, chewed, vaped, patched, chomped, chumped, chimped, chucked and placed as a garnish on top of a bloody Mary.
But it can also be sniffed as sniffing tobacco is popular in Bavaria.
Like I wrote earlier, tobacco-sniffing is popular in Bavaria, and the citizens are proud to showcase their local passions, which is fine, but why sniffing snuff when you can display other notable Bavarian delicacies like having a beer chugging contest, a Bavarian pretzel (of course, Bavarians just call it a pretzel) twist competition or lederhosen tug-of-war.
I’ve only heard of sniffing snuff much like people hear of rogue dolphin attacks — you’ve heard about it, but didn’t know what was involved in terms of technique or procedure — but after doing some research (yes, this is my job), I found that a sniffer normally takes a small pinch between their finger and thumb, places the tobacco near a nostril and gently inhales the tobacco.
Off putting? Yes. Not as bad as I imagined? Yes. Is the German Tobacco Sniffing Championship a whole lot worse? Oh, yes; it’s almost as cringe worthy as the time I learned how urinary catheters work. Really? You ask a lot of questions, but yes and allow me to explain.
WARNING: If you enjoy reading this column while eating or drinking or if you have a weak stomach or a bad snuff-sniffing experience, maybe just wait a little while before reading on. That is what we call a cliffhanger.
For the competition, participants are given a box with five grams of sniffing snuff and the goal is to get as much of it in their nose as possible. Not a little bit at a time; they’re shoving that crap in and up their nose, giving it all they got. It’s like a reverse booger-picking competition.
After a competitor is finished, they sit at a table with a paper bib that covers their shirts as well as the table before them where their tobacco box sits. Every participant with their nostrils packed with dark-brown tobacco and their nose and upper lip stained to appear as they have a toothbrush-style mustache like a row of Charlie Chaplain impersonators.
However, the funniest thing is the look on their faces, each one in pure misery with their noses swelled, their mouths gaped open to actually breathe while their eyes are darting back and forth, looking for the judges to notice them and call a winner.
To me, that look translates to, “C’mon, c’mon! Make a decision already! Why did I do this? I’m a cigar smoker! I don’t even care if I lose anymore because the grand prize is a year’s worth of sniffing snuff, which I can never smell again because my skull is on fire!”
The rules are as simple as the competition is disgusting. Whoever gets as much tobacco up their nose with the least amount in the box or on the paper bib, you win. If you sneeze, you’re disqualified. If you vomit and cry, it’s okay because everyone does so at first…and second…and third.
The winner for the last two years was Christian Knauer, 43, who stuck 4.993 grams of tobacco in his nose and can now speak through his nostrils and not open his mouth.
When interviewed after this year’s victory, he wiped away blood-soaked tears and said, “Give me nasal spray now or I’ll die before this interview is over!”
He also disclosed his secret, which is using special plastic nails to pick up the tobacco in the corners of the box.
Now that’s something I would have to argue about being a performance-enhancing aid, but then I would have to watch the video to show why, and I’m not really eager to do so.
I’d much rather watch something less odd and disgusting like highlights of Joey Chestnut downing 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest last month.
Now that’s love at first sight.
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. He hosts the “Locally Yours” radio show on WMBS 590 AM every Friday. His book, “Stupid Brain,” is available on Amazon.com.