UPDATED!: After seeing this post my brother-in-law, Sheridan, dug up the video he shot and edited of my attempt to beat the 911 Wings Challenge. Unfortunately, the sound cut out during the actual eating portion, so you can’t hear my mom screaming at me (Sheridan put a song there), but what you can see is how quickly the hiccups overtook me! I’ve posted the video at the bottom of the post…
A few years before the TV show “Man Versus Food” made eating challenges all the rage, I resolved to attempt one of the toughest challenges in the Nation, the infamous Cluck-U 911 Hot Wing Challenge! Everyone I told about my plan to tangle with the hottest wings around thought I was insane – especially my brother-in-law who had watched a co-worker burst into tears and vomit after trying – but I was determined to give it my best shot nonetheless.
A month before the Big Day I began training like “Rocky” to learn how to stomach even the spiciest of foods. To do this I bought a bottle of the most fiery hot sauce to be found in Los Angeles, and put it on all of my meals. At first I could only bear the tiniest drop of the stuff (and suffered the effects of it big time), but by the end of the month I was drowning my food with the stuff. I was ready… Or so I thought.
On the Big Day I strutted into Cluck-U with my entourage (comprised of my parents, sister, and brother-in-law). When I announced that I was going to attempt the challenge, a buzz went through the restaurant. The clerk whipped out a piece of paper and said that I would have to sign a waiver releasing Cluck-U from any liability in case the wings gave me a coronary or the like.
“A waiver?” my Mother shrieked. “IN CASE HE DIES?!”
A Mexican dude laughed and patted my back.
“I eat Serrano peppers like candy, ma’am,” he said. “But I was pretty sure I was gonna die after doing the challenge!”
My Mom sat down in a chair, hyperventilating, as the clerk explained the rules – to win I would need to finish a dozen wings in twenty minutes without having anything to drink or using any napkins. If I could do that, he said, I would get a T-Shirt and my photo on their “Wall of Fame.” I looked to the Wall of Fame and saw that it was filled with photos of teary-eyed Koreans and Indians (cultures famous for having the hottest cuisines on earth). There wasn’t a single white boy to be found. I fought back my nerves and decided I was going to be the first.
At a table with my family I tried to psyche myself up, but my Mother wasn’t helping as she yelled things like, “It’s not worth dying for a T-shirt!”
Soon a crowd gathered around me as the clerk exited the kitchen with the hot wings and set them down in front of me. It was then I got my first look at this culinary version of Apollo Creed. It was a frightening sight. The wings were submerged in so much spicy sauce that you couldn’t even see the wings. It was like a soup of hot sauce with wings buried at the bottom.
The clerk started the clock and the crowd cheered. I firmed my chin, stuck my hands into the bowl, and fished out a wing.
My plan was to eat as fast as possible, so I quickly finished the first wing. Upon chomping down on the second, however, I suddenly felt like I had been punched in the face by Mike Tyson. My tongue and lips were on fire and my eyes filled with tears. My bottle of hot sauce had nothing on this stuff.
Suddenly, upon biting into wing number three, I was overcome with violent hiccups.
“You can do it,” my brother-in-law said all rah-rah. “Stay focused!”
“No!” my mother screamed. “He’s killing himself!”
“I’m fine, mom,” I managed to spit out between hiccups.
“No, you’re not! You’re killing yourself! What are you trying to prove? Stop right now!”
I shook my head, annoyed. Getting through these wings would have been hard enough without having my mother screaming at me to stop the whole time.
I finished the third wing and picked up a fourth. It was then that my fingers began to burn like they were literally on fire. I have the ugly habit of biting my nails and cuticles, you see, and the hot sauce was seeping into all the tiny cuts on my fingers.
I somehow picked up a fifth wing, but at that point I was as beat up as a prize-fighter in the fifteenth round of a title fight. My tongue, lips, and fingers were in competition for the worst physical pain I have ever felt. And my Mom was still screaming in my ear. She was no Burgess Meredith.
I finished the fifth wing but couldn’t go on. If the challenge had been to finish six wings, I could have forced myself to do one more. But seven more? It just wasn’t going to happen.
The rest of the day (and, um, night) I was in horrible, horrible pain. Unless you have tried something like this, you really can’t imagine how bad it really is.
Recently I looked up the Cluck-U challenge and saw that they now only require you to eat six wings. WTF??!?!?! I’m seriously thinking about going back into training. But probably not. Because that was one miserable experience I don’t long to repeat.
How about you guys? Have any of you been crazy enough to attempt a food challenge like me?
lol no I dont believe I have….I like spicy food but that sounds awful!
Do people eat this on a regular basis?? sound horrible but good for you for trying
They also serve wings that are less spicy and those are the ones most people normally get, but for the challenge you have to eat the spiciest ones on the menu!
” I have the ugly habit of biting my nails and cubicles”
Ha! I don’t know if that typo was intentional or not, but it’s darn funny!
No, I don’t do food challenges.
Ha! Quite a typo! Fixed it.
Nope…But I laughed out loud at your Burgess Meredith comment. The only thing I have ever done out of the norm for a chick, was to try and chew two Skoal Bandit pouches…Not only did I have to fly in a helicopter while chewing, but, the idea was to rappel out…I was so green from the “chew” that I nearly puked. I never lived it down. “Smoker the Choker” was my name. I thought I had grown some proverbial balls and my fellow soldier boys would think I as awesome! Not so much, ahem….
6 wings now?!? You can do it SPOHR! Think about how accomplished you’d feel all these years later, also maybe don’t take your mom this time.
Come on Mike! Take one for the team! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!
I wanna see you on the WALL!
LOL – love the description of your panicking mom. And you can totally do 6. Unless they’ve changed to those jumbo wings, you might still have a problem then *g*.
And no I’ve never done an official food challenge, although after spending countless hours in McDonalds, we used to make them up – fit an entire quarter pounder in your mouth, okay now try a Big Mac. Hmm, how about 3 regular burgers…not really the same thing, but hours of hilarity to a 15 year old. *sigh*
I think you need to ask yourself, what happened that made them change it to only six wings?
Ouch. Never thought of that angle…
Amanda Joy says:
I agree with Megan’s comment:)
We did family Olympics, and the event my husband and I planned was everybody had to eat the nastiest jarred baby food I could find. I planned this out so that I could be the moderator, and not participate;) I know this is fairly mild, but to watch all of the men in the family gagging down the baby food was hilarious.
and the next day, you made the loveliest red crayon.
That comment made me shoot Dr. Pepper outta my nose! That was awesome!!
Go for the t-shirt…but don’t tell your mom I told you to do it!
Nothing quite like that. Silly stuff like eating 10 saltines in a minute, seeing how many “hot fries” (snack chips) we could stuff into our mouths, etc. My husband, dad and cousin have challenged each other to eat different kinds of hot sauce which has been really funny to watch.
Anthony from CharismaticKid says:
What the hell?? I’m glad you’re telling me all of this because now any notion I have that I can take hotness is untrue.
I personally witnessed someone complete this challenge in Pacific Beach (San Diego). He was my now husband’s friend, a large burly Mexican man who said he “trained” by eating his grandmothers spiciest homemade food. He also downed an entire bottle of pepto bismol in the car before he entered Cluck U. I have never seen anyone’s face turn more red. There are people at the gym that were not sweating as much as this poor guy. But he did it, and in record time (he actually thought the clock was counting down so when he saw 5 minutes he thought that was all that was LEFT). He received his t-shirt and got his picture on the wall. We wanted to take him to PB Bar and Grill for some celebratory drinks but he said all he wanted to drink was more pepto bismol. Even after 2 bottles of the stuff, he was still “struggling” that evening and the next day or 2! But he is now famous at the PB Cluck U (if it is still there).
I say go for it! You can do 6! Mike! Mike! Mike! Mike!
You forgot one of the best parts of that story. Wasn’t someone filming you doing the challenge and at the point you gave up, you motioned and a beer and a water was thrust into your hands from off screen?
Yes! My brother-in-law, Sheridan, was filming (sadly the tape was lost to time or I would have posted it). And with wings as hot as they are I think they have waitresses standing by with cool beer the minute you throw in the towel!
Sheridan Rawlins says:
I found and sent Mike the video – check it out!
I am hispanic so all my life my mom has cooked spicy food so I am accustomed to it [serrano peppers have no effect on me OR habanero] but when I ate the super spicy wings at Wing Stop and I felt like I was dying. Just the vinegar and the spicyness of it all made me want to vomit, literally. I think I ate 3. I feel your pain Mike.
My husband eats really fast and we were all thinking he should enter a competitive eating contest. So, a few years ago, he participated in a gyoza eating competition along with Joey Chestnut! My husband ended up eating about 45. This was way more than any of us could have done but nowhere near the record. He did not eat the rest of the day and said that he would never do another competition. His curiosity was satisfied.
I decided to make a veggi chili one day that required serrano peppers…little did I know that one should wear gloves or maybe coat their hands with olive oil before preparing these chilis… It was hands down the worst, most painful cooking experience I have ever had. I can’t imagine having that pepper all over my face! My hands were so on fire I literally called poison control to find out how to stop the burning. Apparently fat from dairy does the trick… too bad I stock our fridge with literally every kind of fat free dairy product available. Fat free sour cream, fat free milk, fat free yogurt, fat free cottage cheese, you get the picture. Such a sucky night!! So to answer your question, NO, I would never enter that food challenge. It burns like a mofo! On second thought… maybe you could secretly coat your hands and mouth with olive oil and defeat the challenge with a little les burn…just a thought!
I haven’t entered any spicy food contests .. but I would LOVE to !! I regularly eat raw habanero peppers (I like the taste) .. I also put Dave’s Ghost Pepper sauce on everything !!
I’ve built up my tolerance for “spicy” over the past 25 years. I started eating cherry peppers my uncle made when I was about six.
Bring the pain !!
Sounds like you are ready for the raw ghost pepper challenge! My husband grows them in the backyard, and this year’s crop is almost ready! I’ll happily mail you one if you promise to record your reaction and post it
@Melissa – That would be awesome !! I can’t promise to eat the whole thing in one byte on the first shot, but I WILL post a video of it on my site for sure !
Shoot me an email and I’ll get you my info
jstofko [AT] gmail [DOT] com
EDIT: @Melissa- not sure if your comment was meant for Mike or myself … lol .. But I’ll accept your “Ghost Pepper Challenge”
About five years ago, my husband attempted one of those “eat the 72-oz steak and get it for free” challenges at a local steakhouse. He had an hour to complete the challenge. His fatal mistake was ordering it well done (thinking that would cut down on the amount of meat to eat). Instead, it made the meat harder to chew, and ultimately, it was his jaw that gave up, at 52 oz.
Over the years, he’s talked about going back to try again, this time ordering it rare, but we’ve just never done it yet.
Michelle in MO says:
I just had my tonsils out at age 40. What you have described above is pretty much what I went through for THREE WEEKS. I’ll see if I can hitch a ride with my dad (a trucker) to LA and I challenge you to a dual! I bite my nails too so it’s an even playing field.
I think the hiccups were at wing # 2….