7 Intense Food Challenges We’re Not Sure if We’d Try

These food challenges aren’t for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.

After stuffing yourself at a Thanksgiving dinner, you’re probably full enough to unbutton your pants. You might even skip the next meal. We all rationalize overeating until the point of discomfort as a once-a-year affair.

A man tries the Kidz Breakfast challenge at Jester's Diner

However, some people view overeating or uncomfortable eating as an extreme sport to train for. The US has always been the land of plenty, and food challenges have become a symbol of its bounty.

Giant portion sizes, combined with a competitive spirit underlying capitalism, have spawned dozens of crazy food challenges in restaurants around the nation.

The Travel Channel has produced award-winning shows documenting the most daring food challenges, whether eating the spiciest wings on earth or devouring over a hundred raw oysters in under an hour.

Food challenges are painful and intense feats for any contestant and are also highly entertaining for spectators.

Crazy Food Challenges 

Below, you can get your thrills by reading about the most iconic crazy food challenges. 

The 72-ounce Steak Challenge

One of my list’s oldest crazy food challenges is the 72-ounce Steak Challenge from the Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant in Amarillo, Texas.

If you’re road tripping through north Texas, you’ll see giant billboards announcing the challenge starting 100 miles from the restaurant.

You reach this gaudy Texas roadhouse to witness, along with a shocking collection of taxidermy animals, giant digital timers lining the walls.

The 72-ounce Steak Challenge involves eating the following meal in under an hour:

  • 72-ounce steak
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Baked potato
  • Salad
  • Dinner roll with butter

If you manage to eat nearly six pounds of food in under an hour, your meal is free.

But, of course, you can take home the leftovers as a consolation prize if you don’t manage it. 

The Kitchen Sink Challenge

The Kitchen Sink Challenge is perfect for ice cream lovers – although I’m not sure if anyone loves ice cream this much.

This challenge takes place at the San Francisco Creamery Co. where you will be challenged to eat a huge ice cream sundae.

The sundae has classic ice cream toppings like a banana split, and includes:

  • 3 sliced bananas
  • 8 flavors of ice cream
  • 8 servings of toppings
  • Mounds of whipped cream
  • Chopped toasted almonds
  • Cherries

You can do this challenge on your own, or have up to 6 people total try to eat this sundae.

The prize is free ice cream for a year, but you have to do more than just finish it – you have to finish it in record time.

The current record is 20 minutes and 49 seconds, but if you finish under 30 minutes you should be offered a prize.

The 15 Dozen Club Challenge

This seafood challenge comes from the Acme Oyster house in New Orleans.

The 15 Dozen Club Challenge requires contestants to eat 15 dozen raw oysters in one hour. If you haven’t done the math, that’s a total of 180 oysters. 

While I like oysters, eating 180 in a row sounds a bit nauseating. At the same time, at least they come with a pre-chewed texture that’s easy enough to swallow in one fell swoop.

Consequently, numerous contestants have won the 15 Dozen Club Challenge.

Winners get half off their tab, a hat and T-Shirt, and your name on the wall of fame.

You still have to pay an 18% tip for the hard-working servers who have to shuck nearly 200 oysters. 

The Inferno Bowl Challenge

The Inferno Bowl Challenge covers all the criteria, including time limit, giant portion size, and spicy food.

This challenge comes to you from Nitally’s ThaiMex Cuisine in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the owners are a married couple hailing from Thailand and Mexico, respectively.

The challenge started as a competition between husband and wife, each arguing that their national cuisine – Thai food vs Mexican food – was the spiciest.

They ended the fight by banding together to create the hottest challenge on earth, using chilies and cooking traditions from both nations.

Contestants have 30 minutes to down a 48-ounce bowl of chili-infused soup with 12 different chilis, including the infamous ghost pepper.

No one has won this painful challenge, and just under half of them end up projectile vomiting. Winners will receive 800$ cash.   

The KIDZ Breakfast Challenge

The KIDZ Breakfast Challenge is a quantity and time-limit challenge from Jester’s Diner in the UK.

A traditional British breakfast is called a “fry-up” and consists of:

  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Black pudding (blood sausage)
  • Eggs
  • Baked beans
  • Toast
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes

The KIDZ Breakfast Challenge involves a fry-up big enough to feed at least a dozen people, consisting of 9 pounds and more than 6000 calories of food.

You have to eat this gargantuan fry-up in one hour. They recently announced a winner who completed the challenge in under 30 minutes!

Unlike Americans, the British aren’t as supportive of food challenges. The BBC wrote a scathing article reviling the KIDZ challenge.

The Pho Superbowl Challenge

From the Seattle native Dong Thap Noodle House, The Pho Superbowl Challenge is probably the tastiest challenge on my list.

Pho is one of my favorite Vietnamese comfort foods, so I wouldn’t participate for fear of being put off soup for life.

The Pho Superbowl Challenge requires contestants to eat a bird-bath-sized bowl of Pho with:

  • 3 lbs of noodles
  • 3 lbs of meat
  • 3 liters of broth

You get 90 minutes to complete the challenge, which is far more generous than previous challenges.

Still, downing over six pounds of soup surely requires copious bathroom breaks. 

If you win, you don’t have to foot the $90 bill, plus you get a 100$ cash prize. 

The 8th Wonder Challenge

I’m ending with an All-American challenge, using our nation’s favorite food.

The 8th Wonder Challenge is a burger challenge from Watson’s Café in Orange, California.

The 8th Wonder Challenge consists of eating a giant burger and fries in an hour. The parameters of the meal include:

  • 2 lb patty
  • 6 slices of cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • Onions
  • Special sauce
  • Colossal bun
  • Miniature burger slider
  • 2 lb fries
  • Picher of soda

Believe it or not, there have been various winners. The prize includes a cap, t-shirt, your name on the wall of fame, and a free tab. 

Crazy Food Challenges 

  1. The 72-ounce Steak Challenge
  2. The Kitchen Sink Challenge
  3. The 15 Dozen Club Challenge
  4. The Inferno Bowl Challenge
  5. The KIDZ Breakfast Challenge
  6. The Pho Superbowl Challenge
  7. The 8th Wonder Challenge

Final Thoughts

Crazy food challenges are a growing sensation in the U.S and abroad, taking a jovial dare usually relegated to the middle school lunchroom to a nationally televised sport. 

Whether you think you’ve got what it takes to win a food challenge or enjoy watching others suffer the sweaty, eye-bulging effects of overeating, you’ll get your chance to participate in one.

The diverse list of restaurants and diners I’ve described above are happy to make contestants and spectators out of every customer.

If you still want to challenge yourself, check out the spiciest foods in the world!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.