You’ve heard of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Thursday (that one is a bit of a throwback), but none of those are quite as exciting as Taco Tuesday. Less traditional and perhaps less well-known, Taco Tuesday is just as important as the aforementioned events in the Holiday pantheon. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, November 30th, Tonic Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant is hosting their annual Iron Taco Eating Championship.

The culmination of weeks of Tuesday night taco contests, the quest to see who is the “Ultimate Tonic Tuesday Iron Taco” has an added element this year. It all started during the World Series.

Peter Gartrell was at Tonic watching the Giants lay waste to the Texas Rangers when he saw an ad for the bar’s Tuesday night taco eating contest. “I’ve never done anything like this before, except, I suppose, the time in college when I tried to fish gummy worms out of a kiddy pool filled with chocolate pudding, or Jello-snarfulling at summer camp,” Gartrell, who works as a journalist for Platts, said. He signed up and, despite his lack of competitive eating credentials, he managed to consume 15 beef tacos in five minutes. His success didn’t take him completely by surprise: “I’ve been a proud member of the Clean Plate Club since the time I started eating baby food in the early 80s.”

What makes this year’s contest unique is that Gartrell has teamed up with the D.C. charity, Bread for the City. By visiting Gartrell’s Tacos for Turkey’s website, people can pledge to make a donation for each taco he eats. Peter approached Bread for the City a few weeks ago and they loved the idea of partnering with him to raise money for their annual holiday fundraising drive, Holiday Helpings. “You see so many homeless people in Washington and there are so many kids that are on free and reduced lunches at schools. There just never seems to be a way to help,” Gartrell said. He asked friends who have been long-time residents of the District about potential charities and they pointed him to Bread for the City.

Founded in 1974, Bread for the City provides medical and legal services, clothes, and food to D.C.’s neediest. “Our clients’ average annual income is just over $6,000,” Greg Bloom, who runs communications for the charity, said. According to Bloom, “most [clients] are receiving public benefits, but still struggle to put food on the table.” The Holiday Helpings program provides turkey, stuffing, macaroni, fruit, and vegetables to more than 8,000 families. A $29 donation feeds a family of four. On the Tacos for Turkeys website donors can pledge as low as a dollar and up to any amount they choose for each taco Gartrell eats. So far, Gartrell has already raised $48 per taco. That’s almost two family meals for the District’s poor with each taco. If next Tuesday is anything like his first attempt, Gartrell’s isn’t the only belly that will be full. “My friends think I ate five [tacos] in the first minute during the qualifying round,” he said. ” I’m hoping I can get off to a similar start next Tuesday.”

Whether or not he wins the contest, Peter Gartrell will certainly be making Taco Tuesday memorable. With the Bread for the City team on his side and a growing number of fans, he has a solid base of support. So how does Peter Gartrell plan on eating all of those tacos? “The real secret is what I called the typewriter method, though it has very little to do with typewriters, he said. “You”ll have to come out to see me perform.”

Tonic in Mount Pleasant is located at 3155 Mt. Pleasant St., NW, 20010. The  Iron Taco Eating Championship is on November 30th and starts at 8:30PM. To pledge money for each taco Peter Gartrell eats, go to the Tacos for Turkeys website.

Home Food After Black Friday and Cyber Monday there’s Taco Tuesday!