Get ready to taste pie noon!

Neil Collier winner of last year's World Pie Eating Championships at Harry's bar Wigan
Neil Collier winner of last year's World Pie Eating Championships at Harry's bar Wigan
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THE wait is nearly over - Wigan’s most anticipated battle will commence next week.

The 2011 World Pie Eating Championships will take place at pie noon on Wednesday, December 14, at Harry’s Bar, Wallgate, Wigan.

Hungry competitors will eat their way through Wigan’s most tasty delicacy in a bid to claim the world pie-eating crown from last year’s winner, who was 42-year-old Neil Collier. He smashed the world record by 12 seconds according to officials, and halved 2009’s time of 47 seconds by finishing his pie in just 23.91 seconds.

And for the first time in many years sweepers were sent in to check for pieces of discarded pie before the win was declared official.

Neil was from Bolton, but insisted the title remained in Wigan as he had lived there for more than two years. The event is a world-famous favourite, attracting national and international news coverage and gains thousands of hits on YouTube.

Tony Callaghan, owner of championship venue Harry’s Bar, is excited about the competition, which is now it its 20th year.

He said: “I expect a big turnout of competitors this year – everywhere you look in Wigan, you can see people practising, thousands of them every night.

“But I think there must be a rival kebab-eating competition on as well – because thousands seem to be practising for that too.”

The cooked dimensions of the official pie are a diameter of 12cm and a depth of 3.5cm, and a pie wall angle from base to top of between zero and 15 degrees. Minimum content cube dimensions of the meat and potato mix are 1cm, and they must have 66% meat content not including pastry.

Whoever consumes the pie in the fastest time is declared 2011’s World Champion and wins a trophy and a free lunch.

Wiganers are proud to be called pie-eaters, but the nickname is not thought to be because of their appetite for the delicacy.

The name is said to date from the 1926 General Strike when Wigan miners were starved back to work before their counterparts in surrounding towns and were forced to eat “humble pie”.