There’s a thin line between pleasure and pain, and most don’t figure out where it is until they’ve crossed it. You really can have too much of a good thing.
But for adventurous appetites with aspirations of nearly anonymous glory, Columbus has a food challenge for you. The Thurmanator is a legendary ensemble of meat and defeat even Man v. Food’s Adam Richman found hard to believe, and harder to swallow. Hangover Easy’s 12-Egg Omelet Challenge had so few takers, and far fewer winners, it’s rumored to have been permanently retired.
However, there are still victories to be had for those willing to look and loosen their belts—though it’s always a good idea to call ahead to ensure the ingredients and kitchen staff are there to prepare your gastronomical gauntlet.
If your intestinal fortitude is backed up by reasonable insurance coverage and reckless abandon, here are a week’s worth of enormous opportunities for glory through gluttony—along with some inside tips for beating the odds.
Monolith Sandwich Challenge
2142 W Henderson Rd.
The Ohio Deli’s Dagwood Challenge ranks right up there with Thurman’s for classic contests of mind over meat. This sandwich has stepped in and stepped up to claim the crown. With nearly five pounds of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, smoked ham, and turkey, you’ll be hard pressed to finish in just 20 minutes, no matter how you slice it.
There is no perfect strategy here, but breaking up the individual meats may help to break up the flavors. Don’t forget to leave room for that big side of potato salad. It has to go, too, if you want to make the wall and claim your tee.
Gena’s Pancake Challenge
5947 S Sunbury Rd., Westerville
Anyone who says they can easily eat three measly pancakes hasn’t seen Gena’s. Somewhere there’s a plate under that stack of golden griddle goodness. Each pancake weighs in at about a pound and is big enough to pass for a hubcap. You only have 45 minutes to finish all three and earn your place on the small winners wall.
Don’t shy away from the syrup, as dry pancakes are nearly impossible to get down your greedy gullet. Though it defies intuition, be sure to drink a little water along the way as well—it helps the pancakes go down easier, and helps them settle better in your stomach.
What Da Pho Challenge
561 S Hamilton Rd.,
Ever wonder what a 10-pound noodle bowl looks like? Indochine has your answer. The comically oversized bowl is awkward to lift and almost huggable. Beef, broth, veggies and an hour time limit may seem to be the only thing separating contenders from a free bowl and a “What Da Pho?” t-shirt — but you’d be mistaken.
The nearly three pounds of noodles keep expanding in the bowl, so you better eat those first. And you also have to eat everything in the bowl—EVERYTHING. So if tripe and jalapenos are outside your culinary repertoire, be prepared to fall short.
Gresso’s Mountain Mamma Hot Dog Challenge
961 S High St.
Central Ohio has its share of small-towners from points south and east. And they may have left their homes and hollows for work, but they didn’t leave their penchant for a well-dressed hot dog. If you want that winner’s commemorative glass, you’ll have to put away a one-pound beef dog, stuffed with cheddar jack cheese, covered in onions and sauce.
You could deconstruct it like Nathan’s reigning champ, Joey Chestnut, and eat the bun last. But you still have that pound of fries to tackle. However, with a time limit of “one sitting,” maybe you should just plan to start early and stay late.
Big Mamma’s Mega Mamma Burrito Challenge
1359 Grandview AVE.
Many an eager Columbus eater may say they could eat their weight in Mexican fare. Big Mamma might change your mind. Pick the meat of your choice and they’ll swaddle it in a flour tortilla blanket filled with an equally absurd amount of chipotle ranch sauce, shredded cheese, seasoned rice, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
If you’re very careful unwrapping it, you can save the huge piece of aluminum foil and fashion a hat to keep the NSA from detecting your dangerous appetite. Though the picture on the wall and stretched t-shirt will probably still give it away.
Joseppi’s Mega Meat
4764 W Broad St.
Who says food challenges can’t be a team sport? The Joseppi’s Pizza in Lincoln Village defies all of the rules when it comes to food challenges and America’s favorite Italian import. The colossal 28” crust is piled with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, ground beef, and provolone. You and a foolish friend have just one hour to saddle up and ride.
Many have tried, only three teams have succeeded—EVER. But the prize might just be worth the peril: $100 cash, $150 in Joseppi’s gift certificates, winner’s t-shirts, a framed photo on the wall, and membership in a very exclusive fraternity.
Johnson’s Ice Cream
2728 E Main St.
Better break out your sweatpants, it’s about to get cold. And after eight scoops of ice cream and eight toppings (both of your choosing), add three whole bananas, and enough whipped cream, crushed almonds, sprinkles, and cherries to tip the scale at four pounds, you won’t need any help holding up your britches. Are you sure you want that t-shirt?
Winning here is a little weird. You have to beat the best time, which currently hovers around 10 minutes. If a record goes unbroken for 12 months, they reset to 20 minutes. The Dublin location is also down for the challenge, if you call ahead.
Gregg’s Challenge at Brew Brothers
6000 S High St.
Brew Brothers at Scioto Downs has a mighty burger mountain available for any willing eaters to attempt to conquer. “Gregg’s Challenge” is a beefy conquest that will tempt the heartiest of appetites: five pounds of patties, each bordered with bacon, stacked sky high between three sets of buns to help soak up the meaty goodness. And don’t forget the lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese, cheese, cheese! Think you can handle it? Here’s the catch: Gotta get it down in 30 minutes—and don’t forget the pound of fries. If you master the meat, you get the meal for free, plus a Brew Brothers growler and a T-shirt. The same challenge previously had three half-pound patties, but surprisingly, too many people were triple smashing and getting free burgs. So the enterprising Brew Brothers upped the ante with more beef and bacon. Godspeed. •