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?