From Lucky’s Sandwich Company’s massive “Three Stuffed Sandwich Challenge” in Chicago to Crown Candy Kitchen’s “Five Malt Challenge” in St. Louis, here’s a taste of the Midwest’s best (and most intense) food challenges.
Most bad decisions are made after 2 a.m., so it’s a good thing that Mount Pleasant, MI’s Dog Central is open until 3 a.m. on weekends; it’s the perfect time to attempt their notorious “Dog Central Challenge.” Here's what you'll need to eat in under 25 minutes in order to conquer it: three footlong hot dogs topped with chili, a bed of fries, a stack of onion rings, and a 20-oz. fountain drink. Whew. They also keep tabs on who can eat the most hot dogs in two hours and in two and a half hours. If you’re not a fan of fries and onion rings, there’s a “Ghost Chili Dog Challenge” if you think you can handle the heat!
Love steak? Then you’ll want to head to Ward’s House of Prime to take on one of their more massive cuts of beef. The smallest of the extra-large cuts of prime rib is 40 oz., and the largest cut is 168 oz. Those who have taken down the large portions of steak are memorialized in caricatures on the wall and on the menu because, let’s face it, if you can eat 10 pounds of meat in one sitting, you’re kind of a legend.
You might not be feeling so lucky if you fail to finish the challenge at Chicago’s Lucky’s Sandwich Company. The concept is simple enough: Choose three sandwiches, and then eat all of them in under an hour. It’s easier said than done, though... in addition to the filling of your choice, the sandwiches include slaw and fries served between thick-cut slices of bread!
Back in the day, Cincinnati was a pork-packing hub, and thus became known as “Porkopolis.” The best way to pay tribute to the city, then, has to be with By Golly’s “When Pigs Fly Challenge.” You have to knock out one pound of bacon, one pound of pulled pork, and one pound of ham topped with BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato, AND one pound of mac and cheese and a quarter pound of coleslaw... in 45 minutes. And while eating a pound of bacon might seem like heaven, it’s no easy feat, especially when you add all of the other pork products to the mix!
Crown Candy Kitchen is known almost as much for its history—it’s been around since 1913—as it is for its “Five Malt Challenge.” Expect tummy aches and brain freezes if you attempt to drink five malted milkshakes in one sitting. There’s also a strict “no puking” rule, which would be a bummer way to lose the challenge. The shakes are delicious going down, but not quite as good coming back up!
Jethro's BBQ is a local favorite in Des Moines, IA, and one person who was especially fond of the joint was Adam Emmenecker, a college basketball for Drake University. Emmenecker has an eating challenge here named after him that features a bacon cheeseburger topped with pork tenderloin, buffalo chicken fingers, white cheddar sauce, fried cheese curds, and brisket. If you can eat all of that, plus a pound of waffle fries, in under 15 minutes, then you’ll go down in history as one of the few who has conquered the meal!
Stella's Bar & Grill is a Bellevue, NE restaurant that isn't playing around when it comes to eating challenges. . Its “Stellanator” burger comes with six patties, six fried eggs, 12 pieces of bacon, fried onions, and cheese, along with all of the classic burger toppings and a side of fries. Stella’s gives you 45 minutes to tackle the behemoth, but claims one challenger crushed the whole thing in under four minutes! Take your time… you don’t want to hurt yourself.
Think of the “Meat It or Beat It Challenge” at Minneapolis’s Burger Jones as a video game: It has three levels, each increasingly more difficult than the last. You just have to finish the three levels of the “Meat Your Maker” burger in under an hour to win. Here’s a breakdown of the 10,000-calorie feast: Level one layers a bun with a 7-oz. cheeseburger, chicken-fried bacon, a chili-cheese dog-burger, a 7-oz. cheeseburger, and chicken-fried bacon. Level two contains all of that plus a grilled cheese with bacon, and level three has a bacon grilled cheese, a fried egg, onion rings, and cheese curds. It’d be delicious... if it weren’t so huge.
If you’re going to eat massive amounts of steak, South Dakota, with its grand tradition of cattle ranching, is a good place to do it. Aberdeen’s Maverick’s Steak & Cocktails has a “Gut Buster Steak Challenge” that requires the brave participants to eat a 4-pound steak plus a side in one sitting. Yee-haw!
Even if you don’t actually overcome any of these epic eating challenges, don’t worry. It’s just a reminder that some things in life don’t come easily... and a lesson that compromising your cholesterol levels is worth it in some cases!