Back in May, 3 members of the foodjunky fam took on an eating challenge of epic proportions. Daron, Megan, and Johnny all attempted to tackle the Big Timmy Challenge at Timothy O’Tooles in Chicago. According to the restaurant’s menu, each participant must finish the following in an hour: “Two ½ lb. burger patties, cheddar, jack, mozzarella, swiss, bacon, onion straws, lettuce, tomato, pickle & red onion piled high and served with Irish nachos.” So, yeah…it’s a lot of food. Did they finish the challenge?? Did they survive?? Did they puke?? Each of them gave their take on the event.
Okay so I’ll admit, this whole thing was kind of my fault. It all started back in April when I sent Daron a link to some popular Chicago eating challenges. Half of me thought it would be fun to try one and write a blog post about it. The other half just thought it would be one of those “yeah, we should do that!” things that never actually comes to fruition. To my surprise, Daron was totally on board from the start. So let’s call it 55% my fault, 40% Daron’s fault, and 5% an act of god. Glad that’s cleared up.
All 3 of us were pretty confident during the weeks leading up to the challenge. As it got closer though, Megan and Daron’s confidence slowly decreased. What was once “we can do this!” was now “meh, I’ll give it a shot”. It became clear to me that I was the only one with a chance of finishing this thing. While the other 2 wanted a participation ribbon, I wanted a 1st place trophy.
That fateful evening finally arrived, I hadn’t eaten anything for the 24 hours leading up to it (the jury’s still out on whether that was a good idea or not). While ordering the Big Timmy Burger, I asked the server if she had ever attempted the challenge. She laughed and said, “No, of course not!” I got worried. “Is it really that difficult?”, I asked. “About 50% of people finish it.” I started doing the math in my head. How does my ability to finish an eating challenge compare to the rest of the human race? I was about to find out.
The food finally arrived and I must say that I really wasn’t that worried. It was just a big burger and a lot of fries. It seemed tough, but doable. My technique was to take care of the fries first. My thought process here was that fries get cold faster than a burger. Not to mention that a cold burger is much easier to eat than cold fries. I knocked out about 75% of the fries and decided to move on to the burger. I was feelin’ good.
We’re now 30 minutes in. I was a little over halfway through the burger and was slowing down. I was taking pretty long breaks and my pace was taking a hit. But fear not, readers. Over the next 20 minutes I somehow finished the burger. That thing was easily 1 ½ lbs, mind you. Now all that stands between me and victory is 10 minutes and a small pile of cold, soggy, cheese-covered fries.
I was about to throw in the towel. Not only was I insanely full, but those fries looked repulsive after eating more than a pound of them earlier. I cut the pile into about 6 bites and smothered them in ketchup. I took one bite and almost couldn’t swallow it. My body was taking a hard pass on this whole ordeal.
I looked at those last 5 bites and pretty much accepted that I had failed. There was just no way I could do it. It was at that point that Travis (our CEO) lost all confidence in me and chimed in with: “Who wants to bet me that he won’t finish?” Carly (our intern) had only just met me like 72 hours earlier but immediately took the bet. After some heated bartering, Travis gave Carly 10:1 odds that I wouldn’t finish. To everyone’s surprise, she bet $20. For those of you that aren’t savvy gamblers, Carly would lose $20 if I didn’t complete the challenge. She’d win $200 if I did.
I straight up told Carly not to take the bet, to be fair. She might as well have taken that $20 and thrown it in the trash. Alas, she took it anyway. I immediately apologized because I wasn’t going to finish it. Carly shot me the most disappointed look and said, “Johnny, I would do this for you.” REALLY? REALLY, CARLY?? FINE. I took on the remaining bites, each of which took me nearly a minute to finish.
With literally 10 seconds left in the challenge, I swallowed the last bite. I had done it. I got a free T-shirt (that doesn’t even mention anything about the challenge) and bragging rights for about 4.3 minutes. Carly got $200. To her credit though, she split it with me.
The challenge was difficult but I’d recommend giving it a try sometime. Bring Carly along to make an unreasonable wager in your favor.
My portion of this blog post will be short and sweet just like my time in this heart-clogging, grease-covered mess of a race. Johnny came to me with this plan months in advance and of course you can count me in to any competition that allows me to talk an excessive amount of smack and then not perform. PSA: I’M ALL TALK. A few weeks pass and I’ve forgotten about this family bonding event until my Google Calendar gives me a rude awakening that in six days I have to eat an appalling amount of meat. I keep quiet in hopes that the rest of the team has forgotten until the eve of what I like to call The Struggle…somewhere between Megan, Johnny and I, fightin’ words were coming out left and right and it was all downhill from there.
“IT’S GOIN DOWN” and other cheesy phrases were thrown around for a good 24 hours while behind the scenes I was secretly telling the rest of the team that there’s no way I was going to finish or wanted to finish for that matter. It was 80 degrees and sunny out–I wanted to be laying on the beach! Literally the opposite of what I was about to walk into at Timothy O’Toole’s. But I’m a lady of my word so I strolled into the dark bar, head held high, and for a moment I even convinced myself I might just do it! I think I convinced Travis too, but he’s always commenting on how I can put down any amount of food (proudly). PLOT TWIST, I cannot. We anxiously awaited our monster burgers, I might have accidentally ordered a beer (to make extra room, obviously?) and caught up with one another about our typically ridiculous days. Then out of the corner of my eye…I see it. I see not only the burger but also what looks like a sea of cheese covered fries and am immediately full of regret. Carly was giving me pep talks regardless of my plan for failure, truthfully I didn’t have much trust in my competition so I wasn’t too worried anyways…
I dove into the burger head first, feeling’ pretty alright about my abilities but almost half way through, it hit me. I looked at Megan who attempted the same tactic and me, we were about the same amount through. Looked at Johnny who started with the fries so I couldn’t quite gauge if we were neck and neck. I decided my competition was still of no threat and powered through. Anna was standing by with a napkin, ready to wipe my face. Travis was looking disappointed from across the table when I was clearly slowing down. Carly kept up the motivational speeches and Megan and Johnny were both looking as rough as I was feeling. I took a short intermission to regroup. By this point Megan was caught up in conversation while Johnny and I kept throwing shade. Shortly I decided I didn’t want to be taken out on a stretcher and tapped out. Half of a burger…toldja I’m all talk. Megan called it quits soon after impressively killing the entire burger and then it was Johnny’s time to shine. Our rivalry became a thing of the past and we chanted his name as he choked back the last bit of cold fries. The room broke out in applause and he was gifted the t-shirt that he earned. Did it all for the t-shirt, Johnny…proud of you. So we rolled him out of the bar and that’s the day I vowed to never enter an eating competition again. The end!
Day 4 in this booming metropolitan steel jungle known as “the windy city”. I have experienced all that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has to offer – saying the same elevator pitch and my aching feet screaming for relief – for the past 3 days. Being one of the newbies to our team, I was bound and determined to participate in as much team bonding I could take. One of our scheduled events was “The Big Timmy Challenge” at a pub called Timothy O’Toole’s.
This barbecue-smothered monster is two ½ pound patties in between mounds of lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onions, mayo and mustard, accompanied by a mountain of Irish cheese fries. As we sat down at the table where our fate would unfold, my nerves took the best of me and I was inclined to order a Moscow Mule. I went through two mules before I even ordered my heart attack on a platter and was feeling pretty good. Once ordered, the suspense of who will come out victorious brought out a new side to everyone participating. Shade was being thrown around- all family friendly – for the most part, dirty looks being made, I guess it’s just part of the routine with a competition like this.
All of a sudden, from the corner of my eye, I saw the waitress coming with what would become my personal Everest of food. This monster sitting before me seemed to tell me that I would regret everything later that night. With a one hour limit, the timer began. I started to cut the burger into halves, my tactic was to finish the burger first and then chow down on the fries. Daron had the same idea but Johnny decided to go for the fries first- might have been the better way to go.
For the most part I was feeling okay, once I got one half of my burger down. However, the second half was just sitting there…mocking me… I literally started to get the meat sweats. I was getting nervous, unsure that I would be able to even rally and start on the other half. My friend EJ just stared at me in disgust. I probably reminded him of a baby learning how to eat mashed potatoes. BBQ Sauce and bits of food were my accessories. I looked back at the burger, unbuttoned my shorts and just let it all hang out. I was ready to take on the rest of that mound of meat. By that time, Daron had thrown in the towel, I honestly wasn’t too far behind.
Johnny had just started on his burger and was quickly catching up to me. I knew that I wasn’t going to make it to the finish line, my body was screaming STOP since the beginning. “One last bite” I told myself, “and the nightmare will be over”. I devoured the last of my monster and raised my hands in victory – personal victory, but threw in the towel for the rest of the competition. Travis and Johnny were giving be a disappointed though not surprised look in response to me hanging it up.
Johnny was still going but slowing down. All the smack talk had disappeared and the cheerleading began. 3 more minutes till the hour was up and johnny did not look so hot. 3 more bites were in-front of him. Each of which took him and entire minute to swallow. 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1…. HE DID IT!!! The one person to take down the Big Timmy challenge received his glory, a free T-shirt and bragging rights. Though it was a blast to participate in this challenge and become one with the team. Safe to say I won’t be doing this again, but I think we found our new initiation for the future foodjunky newbies!
Word from the wise. When entering a food eating challenge, always wear expandable pants.