The OnMilwaukee.com editorial staff is many things to many people. We're all Milwaukee experts, many of us are parents and some of us are musicians. But none of us -- well, three of us, specifically -- is cut out for competitive eating.
Though we gave it a try recently. The results, not surprisingly, were largely unsuccessful.
It seemed like a good idea -- or at least, not a horrible idea -- when our friends at Potawatomi invited us to try their new promotion, the "Home Run Challenge" at the Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill. It's their new cheeseburger-eating contest that kicked off during All Star Week and runs through the World Series ... and it's a doozy.
The challenge is to eat four cheeseburgers, each with four ¼-pound patties, topped with American cheese, pickles and a side of fries, in one hour. If you "win," your meal is free, you get a commemorative shirt and a photo of your bloated mug on the restaurant's wall.
If you can't finish, and as of press time, no one has, the meal costs you $25 -- and you'll waddle away having eaten some portion of 6,000 calories, according to chef Michael Nagoven.
Armed with this knowledge, my colleagues Bobby Tanzilo, Molly Snyder and I decided to give it the old college try. (For some reason, none of the rest of the team joined us.) Molly, a recovering vegetarian, knew she'd never finish. Bobby and I, having eaten far too many burgers in our time, thought we just might.
For me, the first giant burger went down fairly easily in a delicious five minutes. Bobby even finished his a minute earlier, while Molly was still on her first burger 27 minutes into the race.
I wasn't even stuffed after the first four-decker burger, though I moved on from water to Diet Coke (yes, I get the irony) just to switch up the flavors, which were quickly getting redundant.
Bobby, ever the competitor, finished his second burger at the 15 minute mark and moved onto eating all his fries. Halfway through my second burger, what started out tasting oh-so-good, became repulsive to me -- not because of the quality of the food, but because I was now almost into two pounds deep of beef.
I ate my pickles.
I nibbled at my fries.
I walked around and took deep breathes.
I even pondered, then thought better of, unbuttoning my jeans.
I tried to summon my inner glutton.
Meanwhile, Molly threw in the towel at one burger, while Bobby got less than a quarter of the way into his third giant cheeseburger. He called it quits at 1:05 p.m., 35 minutes after he started.
I sat back down, ate all my pickles, most of my fries and finished almost two giant burgers before surrendering five minutes later.
According to Fire Pit's general manager, Nick Miller, the best performance so far has been three burgers, fries and the pickles. That participant saved the pickles as long as possible, treating them as a palate cleanser of sorts.
Trust me, I can pack away a lot of food, but I cannot even imagine eating that third burger, much less a fourth. I fasted the morning before, and I couldn't come anywhere close. That night, I was so full that all I could muster for dinner was a popsicle. I even felt weird the next day.
Bobby agreed: "Although I made what I felt was a gargantuan effort I only managed to get ever so slightly more than halfway. It really seems like this challenge is more than any human can meet.
"And it's a challenge no sane human really ought to even try."
Said Molly, "The burgers were delicious, but the post-burger experience was not pleasant. I had not eaten a cheeseburger in about five years, so the fact I consumed six patties both amazes and disgusts me."
Reinforcing this insanity was an appointment at my allergist the next morning where my blood pressure checked in at 150 over 95, which is really high -- considering I have normal blood pressure. So if you're planning on taking this challenge, only do it once, then make sure to get on that treadmill.
Clearly, competitive eating is hilarious and unsafe -- if you do it regularly -- but once probably won't kill you. And Fire Pit's burgers are really good, but only in moderation.
I, unfortunately, have one more bout of competitive eating ahead of me: the Cream Puff Eating Contest at State Fair on Aug. 12. But after that, I'm done.
Having ignored portion control my whole life, I now know there's an upper limit to what I can literally stuff into my face.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.