By Alvin Ward
If you have a hearty appetite for adventure and an even heartier appetite for food, hit the road and lock horns with these eating challenges. You’ll get a real bargain, a great story, or maybe both.
1. Milkshake Challenge at Crown Candy Kitchen / St. Louis, Mo.
If you’re an ambitious eater with a sweet tooth, head to this classic soda fountain in St. Louis that has had its malted milkshake challenge since 1913. Finish five shakes in under 30 minutes and they’ll pick up the tab, plus you get a shirt and your name added to the Wall of Winners. Some rules: All shakes must be ordered at the same time, you have to keep everything down, and no outside assistance.
2. Jake’s Five Pound Philly Challenge at Jake’s Sandwich Board / Philadelphia
Condense a long weekend of experiencing the culinary delights of Philadelphia into a single sitting with this multi-course challenge. You’ll need to eat a two-foot-long cheesesteak with all the fixings, four soft pretzels, an entire box of Tastykakes (the regional snack cakes), 24 mini peanut chews and one cherry soda in under 45 minutes to get the whole meal for free — and your photo added the Wall of Fame.��
3. The Kitchen Sink at San Francisco Creamery Co. / San Francisco
This sweet take on gluttony features three bananas, eight scoops of ice cream — your choice of flavor — eight toppings, mounds of whipped cream, and toasted nuts, all served in a specially designed “kitchen sink” and topped with cherries, of course. Each time someone completes the Kitchen Sink Challenge, they set a new time to beat for future contestants. If you beat the previous champion, not only is the whole sundae free, you also get free ice cream for a year — as if you wanted more of it. The rules include the usual stipulations about not receiving outside help or getting sick mid-challenge, but also note that the ice cream must be eaten with a utensil, not your hands.
4. Ultimate Destroyer Challenge at Papa Bob’s Bar-B-Que / Kansas City, Kan.
A multi-layer sandwich with many different kinds of hickory smoked meat — ham, pork, turkey, and even burgers — is served alongside a half a pound of French fries and four dill pickle spears or four jalapeno peppers, or two of each. Eat the whole thing in under 45 minutes and the $58 meal is free, but first you have to sign a release form.
5. Hellfire Hat Trick at Mallie’s Sports Bar & Grill / Southgate, Mich.
Photo: Mallie’s Sports Grill N Bar
There are two extreme challenges to choose from at Mallie’s. There’s your typical 10-pound burger that’s yours if you can take it down. And there’s one that’s a little spicier. The Hellfire Hat Trick is less about quantity, although it’s quite a meal, and more about capsaicin. Eat one hellfire burger, six hellfire wings and one bowl of hellfire chili in under 30 minutes and not only will Mallie’s pick up the tab, they’ll also give you free burgers for a year or a $100 gift certificate. To make things even trickier, no fire-quenching dairy is allowed during the duration of the challenge.
6. The Long Bomb at Paddy Long’s / Chicago
Photo: Paddy Long’s
Paddy Long’s is famous for its Bomb, which features five pounds of ground sausage, pork and beef mixed with spices and wrapped in a weave of brown sugar bacon, then slow-cooked on a pig roaster. It’s served with a side of fries and typically feeds six to eight people. Eat the whole thing on your own in under 45 minutes and the Bomb is on the house.
7. Wing King Challenge at West End Tavern / Boulder, Colo.
Courtesy: West End Tavern/Instagram
You’ll need to keep up a peppy pace to polish off 50 wings in under 30 minutes, but if you succeed you will be rewarded with a free meal, a championship T-shirt and your photo on the wall at the West End Tavern.
8. Unnecessary Roughness at Stadium Grill / Columbia, Mo.
Photo: Stadium Grill/Facebook
Five pounds of meat are layered with pulled pork, bacon, onion rings, three cheeses and fried eggs in this colossal burger, and served with a pound of fries on the side. If you eat it all in under an hour, they’ll not only give it to you for free, they’ll rename it after you on the menu.
WATCH: The Latest Foodie Hot Spot Is … Greenland? No, Really!