Photo: TommL (Getty)
Humans love to eat (especially fries). It’s a trait that has kept us dominant over the Earth for centuries. But that thrill we get from packing on calories has mutated to some pretty weird places. Now we eat for comfort and we eat for entertainment. And one of the grossest ways we do that is through eating challenges, where ordinary people try to knock back disturbing amounts of food. Restaurants around the globe love to put enormous meals on the table and bet patrons they can’t get through them. In this feature, we’ll share ten (with no hacks, unfortunately) of the most intense. Pack the Pepto, buddy, this one’s a heavy load.
Bacon Bomb Challenge
If you’re reading this website, chances are pretty good that you like meat – especially bacon. But the Bacon Bomb challenge at Chicago’s Paddy Long’s Pub is going to test how deep that love truly is. The dish is simple: a massive wad of ground sausage, pork and beef wrapped in a woven casing of bacon and slow-cooked into a football-sized artery-clogger resting atop a pile of French fries. It normally serves half a dozen people, but if you’re bold enough to try and down the entire thing yourself in 45 minutes you can take home a T-shirt and not pay the $70 a full-sized Bacon Bomb costs.
Jack-N-Grill Breakfast Burrito Challenge
Many of these eating challenges give you a strict time limit to complete the task, but Denver’s Jack-N-Grill is so confident in the power of their enormous breakfast burrito that you can take as long as you want. The 7 pound beast contains 7 potatoes, a whole onion, a dozen eggs, a pound of ham and a ton of chili. You need to shell out $24 to order this beast, and if you can down the whole thing by yourself without taking a bathroom break, the meal is free and you get a commemorative button. If you can complete the challenge and you’re a woman, you also get a card that entitles you to free meals at Jack-N-Grill for the rest of your life. That’s a pretty damn good deal.
Even saying the name of this eating challenge is a mouthful, but the sandwich it’s named after is far, far worse. The $55 concoction consists of an eight-layer rye bread sandwich with just about every cold cut on the menu. We’re talking salami, pastrami, corned beef, turkey, roast beef and tongue, accented with copious amounts of Swiss cheese and coleslaw. To lubricate the whole mess, you get Russian dressing and sweet red peppers. Finish the damn thing and the proprietors of Kenny and Ziggy’s Delicatessen in Houston will give you a free slice of cheesecake. Here’s a bit of trivia: Shaquille O’Neal did it twice. In one sitting. And ate both slices of cheesecake too.
All-Mighty Chacho’s Taco Challenge
How hard is it to eat a taco? Well, when it’s a four pound monster housed in a hand-made 14 inch tortilla – the size of a large pizza folded in half. Made at Chacho’s Taco in Corpus Christi, the huge taco is stuffed with beans, cheese, carne guisida (slow-simmered beef), eggs, potatoes and bacon and will run you a fairly reasonable $9.99. That makes it probably the cheapest challenge food on this list. To win the competition, though, you need to down the entire thing in ten minutes or less. Do so and you’re rewarded with a T-shirt, your face on the Wall of Fame and a refund for your meal. Only five people have pulled it off in Chacho’s history. Will you be the sixth?
The 7 Pound Italian Challenge
Few foods fill you up quite as potently as pasta. So taking on the 7 Pound Italian Challenge at Mick & Angelo’s in Niagara Falls, Ontario seems like a recipe for a gut full of cement. As you’d probably guess from the title, the food on offer here is a small dog’s worth of different pasta dishes – spaghetti, lasagna, cannelloni, manicotti and more – along with Italian sausage, chicken parm, garlic bread and a mandatory apple crisp for dessert. If you can throw down all seven pounds in under an hour and a half, you get to walk away with a free T-shirt and the $40 cost of the meal is comped. Don’t triumph and they snap your picture for the Wall of Shame with a bunch of other sweaty, greasy human hogs.
Carnivore Pizza Challenge
Pizza is the kind of thing that you can eat slice after slice of without thinking about it, but the intestinal commitment required to get down the 11 pound Carnivore at Big Pie In The Sky in Kennesaw, Georgia is beyond most of us. 30 inches in diameter and topped with a disgusting amount of pepperoni, ground beef, bacon, ham and Italian sausage, it’s a seriously brutal pizza. With a sticker price of fifty bucks, this isn’t something you’ll want to try lightly. The good news is that you can bring a friend, and if the pair of you manage to down the beast in an hour’s time, you walk away with $250 to split in whatever way you feel is fair.
Mt. Olympus Challenge
The battle to boast the biggest burger in the world is surprisingly competitive, with numerous joints one-upping each other. Right now the leader is the Clinton Station Diner in New Jersey, which serves up the “Mount Olympus” to brave diners. This one is a team challenge, and for good reason – a completed 8th Wonder weighs in at 50 pounds. There’s nothing fancy or trendy about this beast. It’s just an old-school Jersey diner burger with tomatoes, pickles and lettuce on a bland white bun. But if you’ve got three friends with iron stomachs, you can attempt to tackle it in three hours to not pay the $160 sticker price. The Clinton Station Diner has a number of other burger challenges as well, including the 7 pound Zeus.
Inferno Bowl Challenge
For whatever reason, Asian restaurants don’t go in for the eating challenges all that much. One exception is Nitally’s ThaiMex in St. Petersburg, Florida, but you have to have an iron stomach and a dead tongue to try the Inferno Bowl challenge. Made with bhut jolokia chili peppers, this is 48 fluid ounces of pure hell. The restaurant insists that prospective challengers be over 18 and stone cold sober before they take the table, and you need to demolish every drop without leaving your seat. Hundreds of people tried and failed before a dude named Parker East did an end-run around the bowl, eating all the solids first before dumping the liquid into an empty Pepsi bottle and chugging it. He got $1,500 for his troubles and immediately projectile vomited all over the street.
Godzilla Roll Challenge
When you think of sushi, the dining experience brought to mind is usually elegant and refined (or from the deli case at Whole Foods, but let’s not go there). Japanese restaurant Sushi Delight in Lomita, California defies that stereotype by offering up the terrifying Godzilla Roll, a six-pound abomination of lobster, spicy tuna and other good stuff wrapped in rice and slathered in sauce. Each piece is about the size of a cheeseburger and you have to down a dozen of them in an hour to win the $35 prize and a free T-shirt. Fail and you’ll join the other wannabes on the Wall of Shame. Chopsticks are optional and probably not recommended.
Gran Chingon Challenge
Most of the prizes in these eating challenges are pretty small-scale. Some cash, a T-shirt, a button, a free meal. But Brooklyn’s Don Chingon Mexican restaurant has some serious balls. If you can down the Gran Chingon burrito – a massive 30 pound behemoth stuffed with four kinds of meat, beans, rice and salsa – in just one hour, chef German Villatoro will reward you with a 10% ownership stake in the restaurant. You read that right, buddy: all it takes to become part-owner of a popular Park Slope eatery is to perform a gustatory task that might be impossible. If you don’t manage it, you’re out $150 for the burrito, so make some room before you give it a shot.