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Food Challenges for the Super Hungry, Super Competitive or Super Cheap

I recently read a story on Neatorama about a restaurant that's making customers sign a waiver before eating anything doused in their signature hot sauce made with savina peppers. It's similar to the challenge at Buffalo Wild Wings "“ a customer who wants to try "The "Blazin' Challenge" has to sign a waiver and must finish 12 of the hottest wings offered in less than six minutes.

This made me think about other restaurants that offer their patrons a prize for finishing a certain helping of food. I hesitate to post these, because as soon as my husband sees the list he will take it as a personal challenge. Nevertheless, below are a few places where you can get your meal for free "“ if you're up to the challenge of horking down ten percent of your body weight in half an hour.

The Beer Barrel Belly Buster
Denny's Beer Barrel Pub
Clearfield, Pennsylvania

If you scoff at the idea of a quarter pounder, maybe Denny's 15-pounder will wipe the smile off of your face. The 20-inch patty comes on a 17-inch bun and includes two onions, a whole head of lettuce, 25 slices of cheese, three tomatoes and lots of mayo, mustard, relish and ketchup. If you and a friend can get the whole thing down in three hours or less, you'll get the $30 burger for free.

Apparently that wasn't enough for Denny, though. Just last year, he introduced the 123-pound burger. That's not a typo. One hundred and twenty-three pounds. It'll set you back $379, but you get 80 pounds of meat, a pound of lettuce, ketchup, relish, mustard and mayo, 160 slices of cheese, five onions, 12 tomatoes, two pounds of banana peppers, 33 pickles and, of course, a 30-pound bun. [Image courtesy of Offroaders.com.]

12-Egg Omelets
Beth's Café
Seattle, Washington

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Looking for a hearty breakfast (and skyrocketing cholesterol)? Look no further than Beth's Café in Seattle. They serve omelets in two sizes there "“ six eggs for the light eater, 12 eggs for the truly hungry. The omelets come with all-you-can-eat hashbrowns, too. (Note: no prize at this place, just an impressive bullet point to add to your eating resume.) [Photo courtesy of the Official Wedding Website of Jeff & Lisa.]

The Texas King
The Big Texan Steak Ranch
Amarillo, Texas

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The Texas King is a whopping 72 ounces of steak. That's four pounds. It will set you back $72, unless you can finish the entire meal "“ which includes the steak, a buttered roll, shrimp cocktail, a salad, beans and a potato "“ in which case it's on the house. More than 7,000 people have succeeded at the challenge since it started in 1960. Frank Pastore, pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, finished the entire meal in nine and a half minutes in 1987, which is the record so far. It wasn't his first finish, though, just the fastest "“ he had completed the challenge six times prior to that.

Here's a video of someone attempting:

Continue reading...

Belly Buster Challenge
Pizza Party (formerly Pizza & Pipes)
Santa Clara, California

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There are some pretty stringent rules to enter the Belly Buster Challenge (a 20" pizza). Here's a sampling:

"¢ One person must eat ONE BELLY BUSTER pizza made with cheese and two toppings in one hour or less
"¢ Entire pizza must be eaten including the crust
"¢ You may consume water or any other beverage
"¢ We will supply water, you pay for any other drinks
"¢ No dipping the pizza in the beverage
"¢ You must keep the pizza down until all the pizza is consumed
"¢ Management is the sole judge of completion of the challenge
"¢ If you can't keep it down YOU CLEAN IT UP
"¢ You may not win more than once

But the reward is great: for eating a whole 20" pizza in less than an hour, you get your entry fee back (half the price of the pizza), a t-shirt, a picture immortalizing your efforts on the wall at the restaurant, a certificate and a free extra large pizza every month for the next year.

You can read about one man's 37-minute triumph over the Belly Buster (and two of his friends) here. You can also watch video of it here. Alas, champion competitive eater Joey Chestnut doesn't live too far from Santa Clara and came in to break the record again. His time? A mere 15 minutes.

Monster Burritos
Pinata's Mexican Grill
Bethpage, New York

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Yeah, two burritos doesn't really sound like they would be too much of a challenge to eat, even given a time limit. But when the burritos are three pounds each, the story kind of changes. Pinata's has a Wall of Shame for those who fail in their attempt and a Wall of Fame for those who succeed. From what I can tell, only two pictures reside on the Wall of Fame, and those two pictures are apparently of competitive eaters "“ "Krazy Kevin" Lipsitz and Don "Moses" Lerman.

Finally, here's one that doesn't offer you a prize for finishing, but sounds pretty interesting anyway:

Cold Sweat Ice Cream
Sunni Sky's
Angier, North Carolina

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Spicy ice cream? Yep. So spicy, in fact, customers have to sign a waiver before they even taste it. It's mixed with three types of pepper and two types of hot sauce. One of the first customers to try it had to go to the bathroom pretty much immediately and throw up. He's had it several times since then and hopes to go for the record "“ 14 ounces in one sitting.

And here's a fun video of a morning show DJ attempting to eat a cup of Cold Sweat. Warning: there is an emergency trip to the bathroom involved at the end.

Do you know of any other extreme eating challenges? Ever been a part of one?

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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