Before I go any further, I want two things to be very clear.
One: I ate the Four Horsemen Burger; and, in less than two minutes, at one of the quickest times ever
Two: DO NOT EVER, EVER EAT THIS
Those two things being said, here’s how everything happened.
I have to start Friday night, because my weekend has been a long string of interconnected events, all of which lend importance to the following event. For instance, I went running Friday night before I went to a party with Hayleigh. My run made me really thirsty, and so at the party right after I drank a lot of water. That water made me awake several times during the night to urinate. Because I only had four and a half hours to sleep that night in the first place, I was house-sitting in a foreign bed, and I woke up three times to pee, I got a very poor rest that evening. Because I got a poor sleep, I wasn’t that hungry when I woke up, and only wanted coffee. Because all I had in my stomach when it was time to eat the Four Horsemen Burger was coffee, my belly was very sensitive and didn’t have a buffer against the chili peppers. Thus–interconnectedness.
Thursday and Friday were both very fun days with stories to tell of themselves, but I will get to those later in a different blog post. This blog post is about the Four-Horsemen Hamburger.
However, the tale of the Four-Horsemen Hamburger in my life has two parts: the eating and conquering, and the consequences. I will devote this post specifically to the eating and conquering.
After I worked at the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning, I drove to Luke’s house in Inwood. We picked up Fitz and headed off to Chunky’s around 2:00 Saturday afternoon. Chunky’s is inside 410 off McCullough, right next to the DMV. We got there around 2:25 and headed inside, to what was a very well air-conditioned, naturally-lit, empty restaurant. I went up the counter and told the three hostesses that I would like to eat the Four-Horsemen Burger. I felt a little stupid, because I know that they probably have to deal with a lot of people who all think they’re the only guy who has ever attempted the challenge. People who come in acting like they’re doing everyone a favor by trying out the hamburger and giving spectators a show, when –in reality–the hostesses had probably seen hundreds of people order the burger, and were pretty bored with the whole thing.
So when I talked to the hostesses, I tried to be original and be aware of the fact that they probably do this all the time. I told them that it was on my Bucket List to “compete in an eating challenge” and that’s why I was there. When I worked at Rasta Pasta, we had an eating challenge that I had to administer only about a dozen times. By the tenth or so time, I was sick of it. Mostly because the customers could not put themselves in my shoes and realize that this was just another dumb day at work, and that they were not the first or the last person to finish it, and nothing special was going to happen. I remembered that it was the customers who knew these things that were the most fun to serve.
So I ordered the burger and signed the waiver.
The waiver was nondescript and –at the time–seemed to be more of just a joke than a forewarning of serious danger. While the cooks prepared the hamburger I talked to the hostesses and one cook, and that’s when they figured that about one in thirty people finish the burger, and they showed me the stack of waivers compared to the amount of people who had actually finished the challenge. I was put-off, but told them frankly that I don’t eat spicy food, and if I’m able to do complete the challenge, it’s because of determination, not practice.
Another thing, I thought the burger was $12.99. Turns out it’s $21.99. Whoops. But, it didn’t matter because it turns out the burger is free if you finish! I won’t lie though, the fact that the burger was $21.99 was motivation for me to finish it. If you’re going to attempt the challenge and lose, know that you’re looking at about $25 worth of disappointment. It also says on the waiver that if you puke anywhere outside the allotted trash-can than you have to pay a $20 clean-up fee. Talk about your tourist money trap!
I went to the outside cabana area where Fitz and Luke were sitting and joined them. There were about four other tables of people around us. Five frat/college looking guys who clapped me on the shoulder and were really good-natured. Two husband-wife pairs, and a few guys behind us minding their own business as far as I could tell. The first three groups interacted with me and were really funny and supportive, especially one of the husband-wife combos. The husband said they came from Houston and really wanted to eat at Chunky’s, but didn’t want to get the hamburger. He kept making jokes aloud that were really funny, in addition to trying some of the sauce when I was done and yee-hawing very loudly. He said I would probably have crazy dreams because of the capsaicin’s effect on my chemical balance, and I heard him say to his wife a few times that ‘it’s so cool someone is eating it the day we come to visit!’
After sitting for a minute or so my hamburger was brought out to me, and Luke noticed that it was prepared really quickly, almost too quickly, as if it was mostly pre-made…. But we didn’t make any more of it, and the waitress explained the rules a final time as she pulled out her IPhone to time me: 25 minutes to eat it, if I do finish it there is a 5 minute no-drink waiting period, I can drink whatever I want while I’m eating it, and I have to eat everything even stuff that falls out from the burger.
I took the hamburger out of the little trashcan it was served in, got Fitz to take some pics of me (which I really appreciated!) and then took a deep breath. I picked the burger up in my hands, and it was heavy; 1/2 pound of hamburger alone is daunting to a vegetarian. I lifted it to my mouth and began eating.
The first bite was not overwhelming, mostly because I didn’t give it time to be. I took my second bite moments after my first. Around the third bite I really got hit by the spice, and that’s when some of it splattered on my face. I hadn’t yet set the burger down, but just kept it in my hands, chewing as quickly as possible. I ate about half the hamburger before I first set it down.
I warned Fitz and Luke in the car on the way over, that my overwhelming reaction to spicy things is to get very irritable and short-tempered while I am eating them. My prediction came true, and just about everything Fitz and Luke did, while none of it was rude or antagonizing, annoyed the crap out of me. Fitz at one point told me to smile and look at him so he could get a pic, and that just about set me off. During the period when I set down the hamburger, Fitz was really annoying me by asking perfectly normal questions, but I didn’t say anything cause it hurt to talk.
Anyway, I picked up the hamburger and had to stuff some peppers that had slid out back between the buns. I started eating again, trying to employ the same strategy, but by this time I was really feeling the heat. I took too big of a bite at one point and kinda coughed up a little of the burger. I was trying to rush, but I just needed to get the last three bites down whatever way I could. I scarfed it down to one bite, and looked at the hostess. She said to finish it, and to tell her when I was done so she could start the waiting period. I took the final bite and vacuumed it down my throat and said “done.”
She started the timer on her Iphone and said not to eat or drink anything for five minutes. 300 seconds I told myself, 300 seconds. Those 600 miliseconds were the longest of my life. It was absolutely terrible. I wish Fitz had gotten some video of me, cause that’s when I was acting the most crazy. I was pumping my fist like I was hitting a hammer, my right leg was jittery like I was nervous, I kept burrowing my head into my elbow, and I knew nothing would help. Maybe that was the worst part. Knowing that the stupid milk wasn’t going to make the pain go away. I just had to sit there and hope that as time passed the pain would fade.
I waited and waited until finally the waitress said the waiting period was over and offered me the milk. I took it and drank a few sips, but I was right –it didn’t help. Plus, it was Whole Milk and I’m not used to that. I ended up drinking around 35 ounces of Whole Milk, which probably led to a lot of the throwing up later. At the time though it was all I had to get the pain to leave. I drank a lot (three tall cups worth), but I also gurgled it and spit it into the plastic-bag lined trashcan, which was gross, but whatever, I ate your stupid hamburger I’m going to spit wherever I want.
I tried to eat a french fry to soak up some of the poison, but eating only half of a fry hurt too much. It felt like the fry was on fire in my throat, but I knew it wasn’t the fry. My throat was on fire, and it was the fry touching my aflame throat that caused the pain. After the hamburger I had to wait probably about twenty minutes till I felt good enough to stand up, and at that point, I thought the worst was over.
I hesitate to say soon, but eventually, the pain on my lips and mouth died away. I had already taken off the gloves, so I put my hat back on and allowed the hostess to take a picture of me for the Wall of Fame. I felt a little queezy, but the nausea was getting better rapidly, and I even went back into the restaurant to talk to the cooks and waitresses. I talked a little smack to the one cook I was joking with before; we were both surprised I ate the whole thing. Then I got some pictures of the Wall of Fame, where my picture soon will be.
I forgot to write that Fitz and Luke both dabbed a finger into the pepper sauce once I was done. They wanted to see how hot it was. I cannot describe what they thought, but their reactions said a lot. I did not finish the challenge because it was easy, I finished it because I went quickly and didn’t think about it. Fitz and Luke both were breathing through their mouthes and in disbelief of the sauce’s pep. They did not know how I could have finished the whole thing.
The experience was crazy and Luke was right, or at least at the time. He said that it would be something that I would look back on and be happy I had the memory. If all that happened, happened at the restaurant, than he would be right. However, the Four-Horsemen Burger spend the next twelve hours coming up again, and because of that, I advise NO ONE TO EAT THE FOUR-HORSEMEN HAMBURGER.
But, I did it. On my Bucket List I wrote ‘Compete in an Eating Contest,’ but I did more than compete. I defeated a challenge that less than 4% of its contenders defeat. I ate it quicker than almost any of the other challengers. I ate a half-pound of hamburger, not something I ever do. And I’m returning next week to see my picture on the Wall of Fame and to get a t-shirt.