Like cheese rolling and greased-pig chasing, it was once a popular attraction at village fetes the length and breadth of Britain. But now an old fashioned pie-eating contest has become the latest casualty in the campaign for healthy eating.
Organisers of an annual pie-eating competition have been forced to change the rules of their splendidly messy contest.
Traditionally first prize has always gone to the contestant who could munch their way through the most meat and potato pies in three minutes.
But now the title of World Pie Eating Champion will be awarded to the person who can eat a single pie in the shortest time.
The move to cut the calorific intake of competitors has been made in response to the Government drive to cut obesity and promote healthy eating. And in another break with tradition, the field will also be open to vegetarians who will eat their own non-meat pie. (shouldn't be allowed !)
But the changes have provoked anger among previous winners of the pie-eating title in Wigan who have accused organisers of bowing to food fascists. Dave Smyth, 48, a painter, who won the first contest in 1992 when he ate four pies in three minutes, said: "This contest has always been about savouring as many pies as possible over a three-minute period, not sprinting through a few mouthfuls of a single pie.
"They've taken things too far this year. Pies are supposed to be meat and potato and anything else just isn't normal. I intend to lobby the organising committee and I'm not going to rest until I've got answers."
The pies traditionally used in the annual contest in Wigan contain around 400 calories each and weigh in at around 12oz. Organisers insist the cooked dimensions need to ensure a diameter of at least 12cm and a depth of 3.5cms with a pie wall angle from base to top of between zero and 15 degrees.
To claim the title, competitors must have consumed the whole pie and have an empty mouth for the last pie to count. Last year's winner Anthony "The Anaconda" Danson, a weight-trainer from Pemberton, Lancashire, managed to eat seven pies in three minutes setting a new record.
Organiser Tony Callaghan confirmed he had been forced to change the rules because of the healthy eating campaign.
He said: "I realise it may be controversial, but this is the way forward for pie-eating at this level. It will make for an exciting sporting spectacle, whilst also doffing its cap to Government guidelines on obesity. We have also bowed to relentless pressure from the Vegetarian Society and agreed to introduce a vegetarian option, although vegetarian pie-eaters in the competition will be allowed to eat a slightly smaller version because of its rather more glutinous content. We will not stop competitors from entering both championships - so there is every possibility we will have a double world champion for the first time."
Wigan residents are playfully 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 miners from the town were starved back to work before their counterparts in surrounding towns and were therefore forced to eat "humble pie".
Mr Callaghan, who owns the venue, Harry's Bar, said that entries from across the world are invited for the contest on December 13.
Early indications, however, suggest that the competitor travelling the furthest to this year's contest comes from Ashton in Makerfield - about five miles away.