A little over a week ago, Twitter user and iPhone dev consultant Raven Zachary (@ravenme) decided to beat the previous record of eating five fried pies from Whiffies in one hour. His success only generated a desire in others to knock him from his pedestal—and thus the "#piechamp" pie-eating contest was born.

4ce0/1244504567-piesnarfers.jpgThe six pie-champ competitors tear into their pies, still fresh from the onset of the competition.
They are Amado Lumba Jr, Chris McCraw, Nate DiNiro, Eitan, Chris Snethen, and Aaron Hockley.

Things happen fast in Portland's tight-knit Twitter community, especially in the tech/creative blogging sector. Within a few days of Zachary's pie rampage, plans were unfolded for a contest to take place the following weekend. Whiffies Fried Pies food cart owner Gregg Abbott agreed to host, Raven Zachary had a custom "@piechamp" baseball cap made in time for the event, and a @piechamp Twitter account was created for the winning gurgitator.

While skulking around snapping some photos, I ran into OurPDX blogger Dieselboi, who told me a similar thing happened last year, when North Portland blogger LeAnn Locher declared she'd just made the best pie ever. Challengers stepped up and the Portland Pie Off was born—one more example of the spontaneity and power that stems from a constantly connected, active collection of people with bright ideas and the drive to implement them.

180c/1244504835-eyeofthetiger.jpgI had my money on Nate DiNiro. He really had the eye of the tiger, here.

More pie carnage after the jump!

As is often the case with such events, the organizers—in this case OurPDX founder and editor Betsy Richter—found a good cause for the event to benefit: Portland non-profit technology center Free Geek. (Update: Betsy says it was actually Aaron Hockley's idea to benefit Free Geek with the event, and the idea for the event itself was Chris Snethen's but she did do a lot of the organization, promotion work.) Spectators pledged a per-pie donation, along with pitching in to a collection bag. By the next night, the total pledge/donation tally had reached $400 dollars—an impressive amount for a free event featuring six guys eating pies for an hour.

c4b2/1244505836-greggabbott.jpgGregg Abbott, owner of Whiffies Fried Pies, organizes the orders of the Piechamp competitors.

At its heart, Piechamp was about community. Community is a very strong concept in Portland, even more so when backed by powerful communication technology. Still breathless from the bike ride there, I was immediately greeted by a few people I knew, and recognized several more in the crowd. During the course of the event, three people whom I'd never met in person introduced themselves to me.

7472/1244506460-piechamphappy.jpgAll of these people are happy to be at Piechamp, even the guy who doesn't look happy, in the back there.

In the end, Chris Snethen (@ChrisTom) carried away the title of @piechamp by putting away seven pies and three bites in an hour. But the title of Piechamp (along with the Twitter account) is up for grabs to anyone who'd like to challenge that record at Whiffies. Are you the next @piechamp?

Related Links:

OurPDX: PieChamp 2.0 Recap
Fast Wonder Blog: Community Mini Case Study: Whiffies on Twitter