Years ago my grandparents got sick of driving an hour, from the cities to the reservation, in order to go gamble. Obviously, the best way to remedy this was to simply move to Las Vegas. In March 2010 I went with my parents to go visit them.
The week before we went I saw the Vegas episode of "Man Vs. Food". It starred the Big Badass Burrito, a creation of the NASCAR Cafe at the Sahara Casino. A monster weighing in at 6 pounds, measuring 2 feet long. I knew immediately that it was something I would have to try while I was here. I thought it was something I might be able to accomplish. Was I confident? No. Was I hopeful? Definitely.
I hadn't eaten anything yet that day and spent a good portion of the day walking around the strip, sightseeing, exploring, but more importantly building my appetite. As I boarded the monorail to head to the cafe I called my dad. He had already arrived and told me that there were two guys who had just started the B3 challenge. By the time I got off the monorail and walked through the Sahara casino, one of them had already left the table. He ran off towards the bathrooms, which were a concerning distance away. He wasn't going to be able to hold his down.
I declared that I would like to challenge the Big Badass Burrito and the waitress ushered me into the roped off challenge area. A few tables near the main walkway, where everyone could see. A chalkboard to keep track of challengers and their times. A wall of shame, covered in photos of contenders who had battled the burrito and lost.
Before my burrito came out the challenge had claimed its second causality of the night. Matt waived his napkin as a white flag of surrender. This wasn't super encouraging to me, but I knew the stats before I came in. The burrito had now faced 280 challengers and claimed all but 4 of them as its victims. Matt retreated to the bar with his friends, only a few feet away from the roped off challenge zone.
Nothing I had seen before quite prepared me for just how big this burrito actually was. Seeing the Man Vs. Food episode, pictures on the internet, reading the massive list of ingredients, even seeing the half-eaten burritos that had just repelled their attackers, none of these can help you fully comprehend the massivity of this burrito. The B3 weighs more than I did when I was born, twice as much as my dad did when he was born.
I started my burrito at 6:31. You get an hour and a half to complete the challenge, that gave me until just after 8. I was quite hungry so I started out strong. It helped that the burrito was absolutely delicious. I was filled with joy when I took the first bite. If it had been an average sized burrito I imagine it would have taken mere seconds to conquer. I had finished a third of the burrito in just a little over fifteen minutes. I was doing great. I was on track.
Matt was sitting at the bar with another guy and two girls. They would turn around from the bar every once in a while to check on my progress. They asked my name and started cheering for me. The girls would cheer me on and then turn to Matt and console him for his loss. I would be lying if I said I wasn't trying harder now that two cute girls had started cheering for me. About thirty minutes into my attempt Matt said he was "going to go pull the trigger" and headed off in the direction of the bathrooms. He came back some minutes later looking much better.
It is an odd experience doing an eating challenge. You become the center of attention. People walk by an know what you are attempting. Everyone has advice on what you should do it or is wondering how you're doing. Girls would look on in utter amazement (or maybe pure confusion.) One girl asked what my strategy was. I said "First, I put the food in my mouth. Next, I chew and swallow. Basically that over and over again." Every guy will either say "I could eat that." or turn to their friend try to convince them they should try, they will win for sure. For all the people who "could definitely eat one" few actually tried.
Fifty minutes in I was about two-thirds done. One of the waitresses was refilling my water and casually told me "everyone who had finished had done it in under half an hour." Thanks Jennifer, that would have been great to know an hour ago. I was definitely starting to slow down. I had eaten so much, so fast; I'm not sure when my stomach stopped aching from being hungry and started aching from being full. I wasn't going to give up. Not yet. How could I with girls cheering me on?
Two friends, Adam and Steve, convinced each other to try the B3 challenge. It was nice to have companions again in the fight against the burrito. There is a bond that formed between us as we battled the beast. Steve and I both agreed that the worst bites where when you got a lot of sour cream or guacamole, cold and slimy. Jalapeños also posed a great threat; when you get a bite chock full of jalapeño it really makes you question how much more you want to eat.
Adam and Steve were starting strong much like I did. I told them what the waitress told me about finishing in a half hour. "You can definitely feel it when you hit the wall." Giving advice like a veteran when I still was in the midst of my war.
A table of guys began being very vocal about the burrito challengers. The table was sharing a 180 oz tower of beer, you could tell that this was not their first stop of the night either. Their main meddler went back and forth between cheering me on with complete confidence in my abilities then being 100% certain that I was going to fail. At the hour mark, I was starting to agree with the half of him that didn't think I was going to make it. Most of my bites at this point just happened to be when the girls would turn around to see how I was doing. Two more men stepped into the fray and started their own struggle against the burrito.
Matt and the girls left when I had about 20 minutes to go. With them went most of the motivation I had left. A good portion of the last third was still on my plate. I would have to eat the final third at about the same pace I ate the first third. There was just no way that was going to happen. I knew the burrito had finished me, but I wasn't giving up without a fight. I was going to go out shooting. I kept plugging away. Slowly but surely. Bite by increasingly smaller bite.
I ended up running out of time. I had eaten approximately 5 pounds. I did the best I could, but the B3 did what it did best. As it said on the back of my new pink Certified Weenie shirt "I was defeated by the Big Badass Burrito. The 6 pound, 24 inch burrito, separating the winners from weenies daily."
Adam and Steve surrendered less than five minutes after my time ran out. I didn't stay to see the final outcome of the two others who started their fight later but from the looks of things their defeat wasn't far away either.
The Burrito filled my stomach and it crushed my soul, just like it did to so many before me. I am proud to say I at least held my own against the burrito. I didn't have to run off to the bathroom. I didn't wave the napkin flag of defeat. Did I feel ashamed I couldn't finish? No. I just felt really full.
Matt in the background getting his picture taken for the Wall of Shame. This picture was taken with my OG Droid. I still miss that phone sometimes but apparently its camera isn't as great as nostalgia says it was.
For he today that eats burrito with me shall be my brother We few, we happy few, we band of weenies. -Shakespeare