(This) Man V. Food...Food Won! (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

I can't believe I almost ate the whole thing.


It's all the rage now..but this eating challenge goes way back...I tried it once...never again!

A few nights ago on 11 news at 10 we ran a quick story about a guy who tried to eat a 7-pound hamburger.  It was in Frisco, Texas, and it was all to publicize a new burger joint.  The guy ate all of it except the bread (must be watching his weight).  You hear about these colossal consumption attempts pretty often these days.  Colorado has it's own well-known monster-meal.

Since 1973 Beau-Jo's Pizza has been baking up, then serving up a ridiculous pizza for a chow-down challenge. It weights 14 pounds! Six pounds of that is dough...the rest is cheese, pepperoni, onions, peppers, sausage, sauce and other stuff.  Two people have one hour to down the prodigious pie.  If either eater leaves the table...challenge over.  If any particle of the pizza leaves either eater, challenge over.  They even keep a table-side bucket, just in case.

I talked to a guy named Dana on the phone. I got some of these refresher facts from him.   Dana manages the Boulder Beau-Jo's. He's worked there for 14 years..and he's never seen any pair polish off the entire pie!  They keep track though, and Dana told me that since 1973, only 13 times has a bulging-bellied duo managed to munch the entire 14-pounder.  Thousands have tried at the various Beau-Jo's Restaurants around our state.  It was at that Boulder location, though, probably the spring of 1987 when I tried.  I can still feel how I felt when it was over..and I've never felt that way since.  It was terrible!

Keith was a fraternity brother of mine at CU.  The frat house was right around the corner from Beau-Jo's.  We all went there a lot, and we often talked about the challenge.  Keith and I decided we would give it the old college try.  You have to book ahead because it takes an hour and a half to bake it!   We planned it about a week out, and even ate quite a bit for a few days before, because we'd heard fasting first didn't really work.  I'm not sure anything really works.

Here's a web pic of the pie that's prepared when someone wants to do the challenge.

Looks pretty good right?  It is...unless you try to eat 7 pounds of it! 

That day 23 years or so ago Keith and I started out quickly.  The giant pizza is divided into 8 semi-giant slices (pieces?..chunks?..bricks?). We each put away a whole piece pretty easily and moved on to a second one.  Still no real trouble until about half way through number two.  Then the big, heavy, hot-on-the-outside, warmish-and-gooey-on-the-inside lump of food starts to weigh you down...and down...and down.

By the time you're ready for slice number three you realize this wasn't the wisest thing you've ever decided to do. To say you feel full is to grossly understate your stuffed-stomach-status.  You actually reach a point at which you physically can't swallow another morsel..one piece of pepperoni, one sausage slice..any little bit is one bit too many. We both took a break to regroup. There was still plenty of time on the clock...and plenty of pizza on the platter.  A tough chew here, a small swallow there we were both slowly downing all we could..be we couldn't down it all. You feel like you need to puke, but everything is all wedged in there so you can't. Eventually you just stop.  Your body says not another bite - and ignores what your mind and what any spectators might be saying.  It's over.

In the end..we got all the food of off the platter and on to our individual plates.  We figure we probably each left a pound uneaten, so we each put down about 6 pounds of pie.  Six heavy, gooey, saucy pounds of vastly over-stuffed and slightly undercooked pizza.  Dana told me that's a lot farther than most get. I could feel a long bulging ridge traversing my torso, right across the top of where I think my stomach might be.  I couldn't get up to go the bathroom...I couldn't get up.  It eventually took me 20 minutes or so to walk the couple of blocks back to the fraternity house. 

The Beau-Jo's staffers that day told us they'd never seen any other two-man team come quite so close.  Maybe they were trying to make us feel better. Nothing could have made me feel better. It was awful.  I think Keith fared a little better than me, I don't know how.  I tried to go out to the bars that night (it was college...CU at that) I had half a beer and went home. I could still feel that dough ball in my overgrown gut. 

The guy on cable TV who does the Man vs. Food show was in Boulder earlier this summer.  He did some other challenge at another restaurant, and apparently talked about the Beau Jo's challenge..but didn't try it.  Dana told me the guy told him (off camera) that he didn't think he and partner could do it..too much dough.  I couldn't agree more.

I suppose it was fun to talk it about before we did it.  It has been fun to talk about it in the 23 years since..but there was nothing fun at all  about most of that hour, or about the 12 hours or so that followed.

Don't do this.  I never will again........unless Keith wants to.

For now, 1 seven-pound burger please....hold the bread.

We'll talk again soon



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