I just ate an entire bag of family size jalepeño kettle chips for lunch, and my only regret is that I wish I had gotten two bags. I'm not going to lie; one of the things that convinced me to hike the trail was the ability to eat as much of anything as I could eat at any time. This has proven to be true, and it makes me so happy.
Hikers spend A LOT of time talking about food. I mean at least 50% of the words spoken are about food you crave, food you miss, new trail recipes you have made up, the worst trail food you've had, how sick you are of certain food, where you plan to eat while in towns, what you would have for your last meal if you could choose, or what animal you would choose if it was the only animal you could eat for the rest of your life. The debate continues on that last one.
So food is a huge part of thru hiker life. Some people are very creative; some people eat mac and cheese every day. Some people carry just enough to survive to save on weight; some people might as well be carrying whole watermelons in their pack. No matter the style though, it is all gone by the time you reach the next town.
Hikers can eat more than normal human beings. Retaurants in trail towns are very aware of this fact too. At all you can eat buffets, they always reserve a section of the restaurant specifically for hikers. Usually close to the buffet, but always away from normal people to keep them from being trampled in the hiker stampede to the food like Mufasa. Too soon? Sorry. And the nice waitresses always bring two glasses of coke because they know you will drink the first one in less than two minutes. I've known hikers that have stayed at a buffet long enough for the table of civilians nearby to be cycled through new people more than once.
My favorite meal I have had so far was one morning at Kincora hostel. I was on my way to the restroom when I was distracted by Heidi eating a half gallon of Neapolitan Ice Cream at 7am. To my delight she apparently does not like chocolate ice cream though, so there was a perfect 1/3 portion of the ice cream bucket left. As the kind gentleman I am, I helped her out and ate all the chocolate ice cream for her. Next up was the cinnamon rolls we had bought the night before. I had a couple of those around 7:30am. And then, just before we left another hiker passed around an entire pizza that he had just cooked and needed to finish before getting back on the trail. So I had a third of a gallon of chocolate ice cream, a couple cinnamon rolls, and some pepperoni pizza all before 8am. That was a good day.
I don't get to eat so amazing every day though. There are many days that consist solely of pop tarts, crackers, cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, tuna and ramen. But even on those days, I am so content because I am eating my plain peanut butter sandwich on top of a mountain, or next to a perfect stream, or sitting on a bridge with my feet dangling off, and this makes the food taste so much sweeter.
I think I'll go find something to snack on now. That entire bag of chips was not enough.