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So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant via Facebook

10 Competitive Eating Challenges at Restaurants in the U.S.

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So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant via Facebook

It's an old schtick. Many restaurants around the country offer large specialty dishes with a challenge: If you finish the meal, you win a reward—a free meal or a prize, and sometimes both. The high prices of these extra-large meals are usually in line with the amount of food you get, so even if you can't finish it, you'll have leftovers to take home—that is, if you don't become sick from the attempt. Here's a sampling of the challenges that await your appetite. The cuisine may vary, but the rules are generally the same: clean your plate, stay under the time limit, and no vomiting (intentional or otherwise).

1. LOOPY’S II CARDIAC ARREST BURGER

Loopy's II via Facebook

Loopy's II Bar & Grill in Marinette, Wisconsin, offers the Cardiac Arrest burger for $35. It contains three pounds of ground beef, a pound of ham, a pound of bacon, and a half-pound of cheese topped with onions and barbecue sauce. If you finish one in an hour, you'll get a free T-shirt. Beat the record, and the food is free. If that's too much, you might want to try the Belly Buster—a two-pound burger with a pound of fries. You get 15 minutes to polish that off to win a T-shirt.

2. SEIAD CAFE PANCAKE CHALLENGE

Seiad Cafe via Instagram

The Seiad Cafe in Seiad Valley, California, makes large pancakes—13 inches in diameter and 1.25 inches thick. Finishing one pancake that size would be difficult for most of us, but if you take the Pancake Challenge, you'll be served five, with butter and syrup. If you can eat them all in less than two hours, your meal is free. Otherwise, it will cost you $13.95.

3. DOBB'S DAWG HOUSE HOT DOGS

Dobbs Dawg House via Facebook

Dobbs Dawg House in Dobbs Ferry, New York, will put nearly anything on a hot dog. There are dozens of toppings, or you can order a dog from their specialty menu, like the Trailer Park (melted cheese and crushed potato chips) or the Hawaiian Dog (bacon, teriyaki sauce, pineapple, and scallions). The Dawg House Challenge dares you to eat a dozen of those specialty hot dogs—but you can't select them. A roll of dice determines which hot dogs you get. If you finish all 12, in menu order, within 30 minutes … well, the website doesn't really promise a reward. Bragging rights?

4. ACME OYSTER HOUSE 15 DOZEN CLUB

Acme Oyster House via Instagram

Acme Oyster House in New Orleans' French Quarter (and five other locations) features the 15 Dozen Club—those who have eaten 15 dozen oysters in under an hour. There are a lot more of them than you'd think. There are rules, and the rewards are half off the price of the oysters, a T-shirt, and your name in the restaurant's hall of fame.

5. SO BA PHO KING CHALLENGE

So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant via Facebook

So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant in Atlanta has the Pho King Challenge. You pay $25 for a huge serving of pho consisting of 20 ounces of meat and 96 ounces of soup. If you finish it within an hour, it's free—plus you get a T-shirt and a gift card. However, only one person has actually done it so far. Still, that's still a lot of pho for the price, and even losers get a T-shirt.

6. IT’S ALL SO YUMMY ROCKY TOP SUNDAE

Not all food challenges are meat-based, or even entrees. It’s All So Yummy Cafe in Knoxville, Tennessee, makes their own ice cream on site. How much of it could you eat in one sitting? The Rocky Top Challenge is an ice cream sundae consisting of 16 scoops of ice cream, three brownies, three bananas, and a bunch of toppings. If you can finish it by yourself in an hour, it's free. Otherwise, it's $50.

7. JOE TACO CHUPACABRA BURRITO

Joe Taco via Facebook

Joe Taco Mexi-Cafe in Amarillo, Texas, offers the Chupacabra Challenge, an eight-pound, two-foot-long burrito with the works for $24.99. If you eat it all, by yourself, you not only get it free, but you also win a T-shirt, a place on the wall of fame, and a free meal every week for life.

8. BLACK MOUNTAIN MILL 40-INCH PIZZA

Black Mountain Mill & Pizzeria via Instagram

Black Mountain Mill and Pizzeria in Black Mountain, North Carolina, has an enormous pizza oven. Its famous $150, 40-inch pizza can feed 20–25 people. The pie can be delivered, or you can reserve the restaurant for a party with one pizza for all your friends. The 40-inch Pizza Challenge is one you don't have to do alone: Two people get an hour to polish off a two-topping monster pie, without leaving the table. (A common rule—no bathroom visits to "make room.") If you succeed, your duo wins $1000.

9. CUBAVANA'S CUBAN MONSTER CHALLENGE

Cubavana Cuban Restaurant and Cafe in Cutler Bay, Florida (South Miami), offers the Cuban Monster Challenge. Order a 35-inch Cuban Monster Sandwich for $35. If you can finish it in 45 minutes, you'll receive $25 cash, a free meal, and a T-shirt. The restaurant will also donate $40 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in your name. If you don't finish it, you'll have delicious Cuban sandwich leftovers for the next few meals.

10. STUFFY'S II BEAR ROLL

Stuffy's II Restaurant in Longview, Washington, serves a full menu, but it's their enormous cinnamon rolls that made them famous. They have a quartet of food challenges: the Party Burger with five pounds of meat; the Almost a Dozen Egg Omelet; the Bear Roll (a 10.5-pound cinnamon roll, scarfed down in the above video), or seven pounds of whatever food you want. Prices, rules, and prizes vary.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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