Ask a Foodie: How many local establishments have food challenges?

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By: Geoff Lesar
glesar@flavor574.com

Ever since Travel Channel’s television show Man V. Food made its debut in December 2008, perversely proportioned food challenges seem to have increased in popularity.

Ask a Foodie features local experts answering reader-submitted questions regarding all things food, nutrition and cooking. Each week, readers are able to vote for their favorite head-scratcher.

This week’s question is from Steve Schemenauer: How many local establishments have an “eat it all in [?] minutes and it’s free” food challenge? Or any food challenge at all?

Competitive eating is nothing new, but a show highlighting restaurants and their twisted takes on traditional menu items was no doubt novel.

People enjoy watching host Adam Richman conquer calories, while some spectators pray for puke.

A number of Michiana restaurants have crafted their own food challenges, sure to make wannabe-Richmans wriggle in joy. While this list is not definitive, there are plenty of opportunities to test the competitive stomach.

Have you finished or attempted one of these challenges? Show off your photos in the comments.

Angler’s Inn at Lunker’s, Edwardsburg
“The Lunkasaurus”

  • A 64-ounce sirloin that must be finished in one hour.
  • Winners receive a t-shirt, their name on a plaque and their picture on the Angler’s Inn wall.
  • 82 contestants have succeeded.
  • Losers must pay for the $49.95 meal.

Bar Louie, Mishawaka
“Rock the Tot“

  • An annual tater tot eating contest, usually in April.
  • Two categories: Singles and four-person relay.
  • Contestants must eat a pound of tater tots in the fastest time to win. 
  • Winners advance to the restaurant’s national competition in Cleveland.

Five Star Dive Bar, Elkhart
”Five Star Food Challenge”

  • Five 7-ounce beef patties in between three grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Toppings include lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, bacon and grilled onions. Substitutions can be made.
  • Contestants must also finish a basket of Five Star’s Mojos potatoes. 
  • In order to win and claim a free meal, contestants must beat the record for fastest time, currently at 19 minutes, 50 seconds.
  • Losers must pay for the $25 meal.

Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, Elkhart
“The Big Juan”

  • An annual food challenge, usually in April. 
  • Contestants must completely finish a nearly 4-pound wet burrito
  • Winners receive a t-shirt and their photo on the restaurant’s wall.

Hensell’s Oaken Bucket, South Bend
“The King Burger Challenge”

  • The nearly 4-pound King Burger features four ground beef patties, cheddar cheese sauce and grilled onions.
  • Contestants must finish the burger in 45 minutes or less.
  • Winners receive a free meal, a t-shirt and their photo on the restaurant’s wall.
  • Losers must pay for the $27.99 meal.

Hoople’s, Bremen
“Hoople’s Burger Challenge”

  • A 3-pound burger served on a 9-inch bun
  • Contestants must choose at least three toppings such as onions, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce.
  • Winners receive a free meal, t-shirt and their picture on the wall of fame.
  • The burger must be completely finished in 45 minutes or less.
  • Losers must pay for the $45 meal.
  • Reservations are required, preferably on Saturday.
  • One person has completed the challenge.

Mancino’s Grinders and Pizza, Plymouth
“Five-pound Grinder Challenge”

  • The grinder includes one pound of ham, 12 ounces of roast beef, 12 ounces of turkey, sausage, bacon, salami, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, banana peppers, lettuce and tomato. 
  • The grinder must be completely finished in 30 minutes or less.
  • Prizes have yet to be determined, because no one has ever completed the challenge.
  • Contestants may drink water or soda.
  • Losers must pay for the $40 meal.

Mikey’s Pizza Pit Stop, Knox
“Surface of the Sun Challenge”

  • 12 traditional wings with “super hot sauce” must be consumed in six minutes or less.
  • Winners will have their picture featured in the restaurant.
  • Losers must pay for the $12.95 meal.

Macadoo’s Family Restaurant, Mishawaka
“Spicy Breakfast Burrito Challenge“

  • A nearly 5-pound burrito stuffed with a dozen eggs, ham, sausage, a half-pound of cheese, onions, habeneros and ghost peppers.
  • Contestants must finish the burrito in 20 minutes or less. 
  • Prizes include a free meal, t-shirt and the contestant’s picture on the wall of fame.
  • Losers must pay for the $12.95 meal.

O’Rourke’s Public House, South Bend
“Wing Bowl”

  • An annual chicken wing-eating contest traditionally held the Wednesday prior to the Super Bowl.
  • Each three-person team must have at least one member who is 21 years old.
  • Teams must completely finish a basket of 20 bone-in wings smothered in hot sauce and consume one pint of Guinness.
  • A $15 team entrance fee is required.
  • The team with the fastest time wins gift cards and t-shirts.

Snappers Sports Bar, Elkhart
“Burger Challenge”

  • A nearly 4-pound burger featuring five third-pound ground beef patties with a slice of cheese and bread between each patty. 
  • Contestants must also finish a 2-pound basket of french fries or tater tots.
  • The meal must be completely finished in 20 minutes. 
  • Only one contestant has completed the challenge.
  • Winners receive a free meal and a t-shirt proclaiming, “I Licked It.”
  • Losers must pay for the $50 meal, but will still receive a t-shirt stating, “I Got Licked.”

Waka Dog, South Bend
“Waka Dog Challenge”

  • Two half-pound Chicago dogs, bun and all. Three-quarters of a pound of barbecue pulled pork, coleslaw, a half-pound of fries, chili cheese and onion rings top the franks.
  • 104 people have attempted the challenge. Only eight have succeeded.
  • Contestants must complete the challenge in 30 minutes or less. 
  • The “weiner” with the fastest recorded time gets to rename the menu item.
  • All “weiners” receive a free meal and will have their name featured on the Waka Hall of Fame.
  • The current name of challenge hot dog is the Mongo Dog, after Richard Bonne completed the challenge in 8 minutes. It was previously the Dawson Dog.
  • Prior reservations are necessary.
  • Losers must pay for the $35 meal.

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