On several occasions around these parts, we've had discussions about what constitutes a worthy food eating challenge. And, more to the point, what constitutes a food eating challenge worth covering. To understand our position, one must know the history of our writing about The Food Eating Challenge (FEC), which began with a trader named Ian AKA Oyster Boy, who, in the summer of 2007, bet that he could consume 144 oysters in one hour at Ulysses. He completed the task at hand in a mere 15 minutes and then, ate 100 more in the remaining 45 minutes (which the staff had to bring in from next door, as they'd run out after the first leg). The gauntlet had been thrown down. And while a good number of you set out to perform feats of gastrointestinal fortitude that were imaginative, topical and, most importantly somewhat difficult, some thought that endeavoring to consume 8 vending machine items in 12 hours could be considered a challenge. After a while, we stated that such combinations of quantity + time would not be chronicled on our watch, in order to save yourselves (and ourselves) the embarrassment (first and second hand) of not only thinking that what amounts to a snack could be considered something someone would have a hard time completing but the shame of not even finishing it, which happened more than once.
Which brings us to a FEC that occurred earlier today at Citigroup, the merits of which are currently being hotly debated.
The contender was a Citi trader and the challenge was this: one Crumbs Colossal Cupcake, 35 minutes. Successful completion of task (which included keeping said cupcake down) would mean $600. With 96% completed and ten minutes to go, the cupcake made a "messy appearance on the floor," resulting in a fail.
Now, normally, we'd be of the opinion that this entire challenge, from start to finish, was an abysmal, embarrassing failure, illustrative of what some believe is the pussification of Wall Street, and one that should never be spoken of. How is a cupcake a challenge, one would ask. However.
Anyone who's ever eaten a Crumbs cupcake will tell you that while the failure was a disappointment, this was a challenge that few if any would stand a chance at actually beating. For those who've never had one of these things, it's like hooking yourself up to ten IVs of sugar. Eating one regular-sized Crumbs cupcake will leave you nauseated, weak and necessitate laying down until the feeling of needing to vomit passes (and you're lucky if it remains but a feeling). A year later, you might think to yourself that maybe it was just a one-off bad experience that was all in your head; you might try another stab at it, only to be fooled twice and, as you lay in the fetal position, you might wonder what the proper term is for feeling like you're going to die from too much sugar (is it hyperglycemia? Is it insulin shock? Is it diabetic shock? Or is that when you haven't had enough sugar?). And that's the regulation size cupcake! Here's how the Colossal is described:
"...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 it's not as hard as, say, Oyster Boy's, it's definitely a FEC he'd approve of, as would we. (Not the failure, the challenge.) Others, like a friend we've been having a blood-boiling debate with about the matter, feel differently.
"Actually I've never done dessert-related eating contests. That's just fucking gross. Who wants instant diabetes? Like once a year I'll have like three Magnolia cupcakes and spend the rest of the day trying to find a way to knock myself unconscious to sleep it off. That challenge is kind of a disgrace. I understand the fail but it's like - why do that to yourself? It's a useless challenge. I don't respect it, it's trash because it's sugar-based. I like do-able challenges that involve filling a stomach to overcapacity, NOT gimmicks where an overload of a specific ingredient which can do real damage to you is the limiting factor. A useful challenge is one actually WORTH betting on, spectating at, etc. This is more just like a stupid, sad display that mankind should collectively sweep under the rug and never, EVER speak of again. Let me distill my opinion this way. If you die in a bacon eating contest, you die a hero. People will sing songs about you around campfires for decades into the future. If you die eating an oversized cupcake? Well, really, that's just mother nature's way of thinning the herd."
Notice how he admits that it would be extremely difficult, and perhaps not even doable at all, but because it doesn't fit into his narrow-minded idea of what a food challenge should be, deems it garbage? Of course bacon is more respectable but that's not the point, the point is, is this hard? So hard that it could be called a challenge? That's how this and all FEC's should, nay, must be evaluated. If you should have any thoughts on the issue, do let us know at this time.