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.
The relevant parts of his story (for those thinking things; namely, that whether you're short Herbalife, long Herbalife, or couldn't give a rat's ass about Herbalife either way, this is a great idea):
Herbalife products are not easy to obtain. You can’t buy them in stores. To find our sample, The Observer journeyed deep into the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, where we met a Herbalife distributor named Adam Guziczek and his wife Elizabeth in their walk-up apartment.
11:09 a.m.: Recalling De Quincey’s opium experiments, mix first Herbalife shake late Monday morning. Two heaping scoops of the company’s Formula 1 to eight ounces of skim milk. Consistency: clumpy. Taste: chalky. “Replace one meal daily with a Formula 1 for healthy nutrition, replace two meals for weight loss.” Pumpkin Spice easy on the palate. Could get used to this!
12:18 p.m.: Two shakes down. A full 38 percent of daily protein! Taste bears hints of Cheerios. Feeling of mild euphoria. Or fear? Ask friend on Wall Street how much to consume. “If it’s milk-based, you’re going to have a case of the farts, dude.”
1:19 p.m.: A giant smoked turkey arrives in the newsroom, a belated holiday gift. Smells delicious. Then again, three shakes equals 57 percent of daily protein. Pass on turkey. Am I glowing?
2:04 p.m.: Halfway through fourth shake. Jitters starting to set in. Blood pulsing in calves. Detect the onset of promised flatulence. Legs trembling. Observer pantry running out of skim milk. Might have to switch to water. Can you overdose on vitamin D?
3:37 p.m.: Mouth full of chalk, pulse back to normal. What is normal? Persistant stomach noises. Will someone put away that damn turkey? Have consumed 100 percent recommended allotment for biotin and molybdenum. Note to self: Don’t Google biotin.
5:36 p.m.: Have now consumed seven shakes in seven hours. Calves pulsing again. Is that Morse code? One shake an hour may be too much. Hitting a wall or catching second wind? Friends Gchat story about Al Roker “sharting” in the White House. Not funny. Is it cold in here? Definitely a second wind. Could drink these things all night. Somebody bring me some goddamn skim milk.
So, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Obviously, there are many different ways you could go about this: single competitor, racing against the clock to finish, say, 5 shakes in 5 minutes; colleague versus colleague; superior versus underling; guy or girl wearing Ackman mask versus guy or girl wearing Loeb mask. Sky's the limit. And if you want your efforts preserved for posterity, remember: we're listening.
Take the Herbalife Challenge! Bill Ackman Goes Short, We Guzzle All the Weight-Loss Shake We Can Swallow [NYO]
*Yes, yes, we cannot forget the Wachovia cat food FEC, but I'm putting it down here because while we should all remain impressed: 1) it's still completely revolting and 2) you know how sensitive WFC née WB is about all that.