On the seventh floor of a concrete office building in Washington, a government worker stops to contemplate a purchase from the vending machine. Then his phone vibrates. An alert on the screen suggests he pass on the Twinkies today. This guinea pig, among a group of employees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, may be experiencing the office of the future. The department ran an experiment this summer to see whether new technology could get workers to form better health habits. The Health Department used wireless gizmos situated around the office that transmit signals to employees’ mobile devices as they pass by. An app running on their smartphones interprets the data and delivers advice based on where they are. Employees who get up from a conference-room table might get an alert telling them to take the long way back to their desks. Walking past a water fountain five times prompts a suggestion that it’s time to stop for a drink during the next go-around. [Bloomberg, related]
food eating challenges
Been itching to get back into the Food Eating Challenge game but unsuccessful in finding one that combines your love of competition and hyperglycemia? Today’s your lucky day. Crumbs Cupcakes is back and not only will it be offering its cupcake the size of 9 Costco-sized sheet cakes, but even more ticking time bombs of sugar just begging to consumed under time constraints by your investment banking analyst or hedge fund intern of choice. Read more »
Crumbs Finds Out Its Eyes Were Bigger Than Its Stomach (Though A Citigroup Trader Could’ve Told Them That)By Bess Levin
On June 24, 2011, a trader at Citigroup took on an extremely bold challenge: to finish, and keep down, a Crumbs Colossal Cupcake, within a 35 minute time limit. For those unfamiliar with the Crumbs’s menu, a standard, regulation-size cupcake contains about 3 metric tons of sugar. The Colossal Cupcake? “…towers at about six and a half inches high with deliciousness and love baked into every bite. Soft sponge cake with mountains of frosting and heaps of fun decorations will have cupcake lovers everywhere rejoicing. A huge (and we mean huge) surprise for a birthday or any occasion you can dream of. Serves 6-8.” And while said trader successfully devoured this beast of a cupcake, he was unsuccessful in keeping it in his body, rendering the attempt a failure, despite an extremely valiant effort.
At the time, there seemed little more to take away from the experience than the fact that someone had taken on a Food Eating Challenge of otherworldly proportions, and the Food Eating Challenge ended up taking him. No one stopped to think that maybe he should have gone for 3 or 4 standard size cupcakes; still a sickly amount of sweet, but probably a more manageable one. That going head to head with a cupcake the size of a cake was a fool’s mission; that it was to bite of more than anyone could chew. Now, we know it was foreshadowing what would one day come. Read more »
Back when the financial crisis hit, and financial services employees started getting laid off en masse, a lot of people took the opportunity to look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What do I really want to do with my time? Do I even like working on Wall Street?” More often than not, the answer was no. As it turned out, they’d been suppressing their true dreams all along, and now that working in finance was no longer an option, they finally found the courage to say, “What I really want to do is bake cupcakes. Butch ones.” Or, “What I really want to do is sell Greek food.” Or wedding cakes. Or dog jewelry. Deep down inside they’d known it all along but they’d just needed that extra little push that comes with being told to clean out your desk and leave.
Married couple Nick and Elyse Oleksak, he of GFI Group, she of Morgan Stanley,* didn’t have the luxury of unemployment to push them to pursue their dreams. What they did have was a passion. A passion for bagels. And a middle-of-the-night epiphany that changed everything. Read more »
It’s another vending machine challenge and you know how we feel about those (too much time, not enough food, doesn’t put hair on anyone’s chest) BUT it does involve a contract (described as “amazing” by the half of Dealbreaker that was at one time licensed to practice law in New York1), the terms of which state that in the event of a loss, the loser will pay for a lunch he’s not invited to, so we’ve got award points for that. Read more »
As many of you know, around these parts we are constantly debating the merits of various financial services employees’ food eating challenges. Historically, we’ve detracted points for allowing the participants far too much time to complete the task at hand (opening bell to close, might as well just make it limitless), an insufficient volume of food (a box of Munchkins, considered by many to be a snack), and lack of originality (vending machine challenges have been done). On the flip side, we’ve applauded creativity (an investment banker and 500 Starburst enter a room and there’s a webcam involved),* obscene amounts of food and enough sugar to cause hyperglycemia (244 oysters, a cupcake of death), and topicality (the delicacy that is the Sausage Pancake Bite: yes! Double Downs: double yes!).
Which brings us to this: the Herbalife Food Eating Challenge. New York Observer reporter Patrick Clark noticed that while the Herbalife story has been covered by many an angle so far (the blood-sucking pyramid scheme angle, the grandma angle, the Dan Loeb/UWS hedge fund manager on UWS hedge fund manager angle), the most important angle of all had yet to be explored: the actual ingesting of this stuff angle. Read more »
As you all are well aware, from time to time we cover food eating challenges around these parts. We don’t chronicle all the feats of gastrointestinal fortitude that come our way, though, because while we love you all, not all of your FECs constitute what we’d consider an actual challenge worth covering. As previously discussed, our high bar has everything to do with the first contest we ever wrote about (as a postmortem), which involved a man named Oyster Boy, who consumed 244 oysters in 1 hour at Ulysses, throwing down the gauntlet down for one of you to pick up, vis-à-vis goring yourself for sport. Do we really expect anyone to match OB in magnitude or strength of stomach lining? No, we do not. Having said that, “challenges” such as eating 8 vending machine items in 12 hours (or in an unlimited amount of time!) are not going to cut it. It’s not an exact science but we look for FECs that are imaginative, topical, and/or represent a high degree of difficulty. (And while we wouldn’t actually advise it, live streaming the whole thing would make our day.) Which brings us to this afternoon’s challenge. Read more »
Food Eating Challenge: A Financial Services Employee And A Mound Of Starbursts Enter A Room (Update)By Bess Levin
Who will emerge victorious? We’ll know soon. The challenge: 500 Starbursts in 12 hours. The contender: a financial analyst whose eyes may or may not be bigger than his stomach (41.666 in an hour? Don’t offer me that. 41.666 every hour for 12 hours? That’s a challenge). On the table: $500. The progress so far: he started at 8:30 CDT and has put away 250. The commentary: “He says he’s uncomfortable, but not disgusted. Yet.” The bonus: he’s live-streaming the event. Read more »