Man Dies in Sauerkraut Contest

Los Angeles Evening Herald/February 1, 1922


Cabbage and Bootleg Blamed

Tells of Eating and Drinking Contest and Finding Companion Dead


Two men participated in a midnight contest to see who could eat the most sauerkraut and bacon and, incidentally, drink the most bootleg whiskey. The race was fatal for one of them, according to the police.

The body of Anton Schatz, 30, a cook, was found hanging over the foot of a bed in an East Fourth Street rooming house today by W. Graf, the other participant in the death race.

According to Detectives Davis and Parsons, Schatz evidently died from wood alcohol poisoning.

According to Graf’s statement to detectives, he met Schatz on the street a few minutes before midnight. The man was a stranger to him but they soon became friends when Schatz was alleged to have exhibited a quart of bootleg whiskey.

 Takes “Count”

Schatz accepted Graf’s invitation to go to the latter’s room. On the way they purchased some sauerkraut and bacon and they were said to have challenged each other to an eating and drinking contest.

Graf told the police that he “took the count” at 1 a.m. and went to bed, leaving Schatz seated at a table before a mountain of sauerkraut and with a pint of bootleg whiskey.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Graf awakened, rubbed his eyes and was astonished when he saw Schatz leaning over the foot of the bed. In one hand of his new-made friend was a fork still bearing a goodly portion of sauerkraut. In his other hand was the empty bottle.

 Finds Companion Dead

Graf shook his companion and was astonished to find him dead.

The police and the coroner’s office were notified. Coroner Nance authorized an undertaker with an establishment in Moneta Avenue to take charge of the body.

Detectives began a search for relatives of Schatz and Autopsy Surgeon Wagner and City Chemist Maas were scheduled to make an examination of the viscera to definitely determine if it was wood alcohol which caused the man’s death.