By Mike Hammersley
Our society is cocky by nature. Just look at the shows we watch — with 3.6 million people tuning into “Jersey Shore” every week, how could we not emulate arrogance?
My friends and I are no different.
Over and over again, Americans underestimate the difficulty of a challenge or the enormity of an accomplishment. Prime example: over half of Americans in a Sportsnation poll believe they can hit a home run in the Home Run Derby, even though Brandon Inge, an all-star professional baseball player, failed to hit one.
At least they don’t have to realize they’re wrong the hard way.
We, however, did. We found out about the 30s Pizza Challenge one day while we were riding around looking for cheap food, and it sounded easy enough. Three people eating a 30-inch [in diameter] pizza within one hour? What a joke! And we get a free T-shirt and picture on the website for winning? Sign us up. Also, the pizza was $40, but if we won it was free. We thought that was a bad business decision; who would give that much pizza away so easily?
At the very least, we thought, we would prepare correctly, so we all agreed to do what we thought was scientifically correct and eat a huge helping of pasta (it’s all about the carbs) the night before, fast during the day and make sure to fill up on water in the morning before. Luckily for us, we picked the Friday of finals week, so we were drinking water all day; one of my friends even downed an entire gallon.
When we got there, I have to say I was a little intimidated. The employees were welcoming and nice, but they did not seem very enthusiastic about it. Apparently, according to them, out of the 700ish trios that they’ve seen try this challenge, a mere 42 succeeded.
Now we had done all of the calculations; we weren’t naive enough to think that each person would have to eat the 10 inch pizza. No, we paid attention in geometry and figured that each of us would have to eat roughly a 17 1/3 inch pizza by ourselves. We were actually OK with that; a few weeks beforehand four of us bought three 16-inch pizzas and downed them easily. But no calculations could prepare us for the monster that was about to come.
That pizza was ridiculously huge. It was the kind of huge that makes your eyes involuntarily go wide; the kind of huge that makes you full just by looking at it.
The pizza was HOT. Since you only have an hour though, I had to eat and battle through the heat and the roof of my mouth burnt like a marshmallow at a campfire, making the rest of the experience considerably uncomfortable.
Because we are so calculatory, we counted up all of the pieces, and we counted 56 inner pieces and 33 crust pieces, amounting to an astounding 89 pieces — about 30 per person. Talk about intimidating; that’s roughly seven or eight pizza outings for me — in ONE sitting.
Although I burned my mouth, the pizza was still good, which is one part we were worried about. What if the reason nobody won was because the pizza was unbearable? It wasn’t; that pizza is one of the best out there.
You wouldn’t think the one-hour time limit would be an issue here, but it is. With 45 minutes to go, we were on a good pace. I had downed around 10 pieces, and everyone else was on track as well. I started to feel it around with 35 minutes to go, but I hit a definitive wall at 25 minutes. That wall was solid steel — there was no way around it. In my head, there was nothing I could do to get around it — couldn’t climb it, couldn’t jump over it, couldn’t even blow it up.
I was utterly helpless, and my friends soon followed. Although we each only had 10 pieces to go, it seemed like the entire pizza again. It took longer and longer to eat slices until eventually, with 14 minutes left, we called it quits. After 21 grueling slices of pizza, I was done, beaten by a combination of time and a non-existent will to move any part of my body. I had started out eating roughly a piece a minute; my progress had slowed to a piece every four or five, and I realized that the monstrous pizza had my number.
We could actually feel the food in our stomachs; I couldn’t move too quickly or the giant mass in my torso would get angry. One of my friends literally looked as if he was in the second trimester of pregnancy; another developed a weird pulse in his stomach later that night, almost as if the devoured pizza had a life of its own.
Any use of abdominal strength immediately became hell. We were in the car on the way home, and I started laughing at how badly we failed. The pizza didn’t like that one bit and suddenly retaliated with surprisingly vicious sharp pains in my abs. It felt like a tiny little boxer was standing on the seat, punching me in the torso for every chuckle.
My friends, being the sensitive people they are, began laughing at my pain, and the tiny little boxer paid them a visit, causing mass hysteria in the car and a weird blend of laughter and screams of pain. I’ve never heard anything like that, nor will I ever again.
We also forgot what it felt like to be hungry. The feeling didn’t return to me for about three days — and I mean true hunger, not just eating because it’s dinner time. Food of any kind disgusted us, especially pizza, although I’m happy to say I had some last night and there was no gag reflex.
So, all in all, we were beaten by the monster pizza. We were as cocky as “The Situation” and got what we deserved: a slap on the wrist, or in this case the stomach.
So, students of Prospect, I leave you with this warning: always underestimate what you can do when it comes to these challenges. Just because it sounds easy doesn’t mean it is.