The Graveyard Challenge
I’ve been hyping this thing for the last month.
Well, this past Saturday, I did it. Well…kind of…
I arrived at The Wagon Train BBQ in Rotterdam/Schenectady at around 1:10 PM on Saturday 4/9/2011 to a thunderous ovation. No, seriously, people were jumping out of the back of pick-up trucks yelling “YEAH!!! JERRY’S HERE!” My good buddy, Rory, was already there and also celebrated my arrival. I posed in front of the sign out front a little.
Earlier that morning, they posted the exact details of the challenge on facebook. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last month, here it is:
1lb burger, 8oz pulled pork, 8oz beef brisket, 8oz mac n cheese, 8oz coleslaw, 2 fried eggs, 4 pieces of bacon, 4 pieces of cheese, onion tanglers, jalapeno bottle caps, KC BBQ sauce, on a G-Normous roll, served with FF and O Rings. 5Lbs Total
if you complete the challenge in under 30 mins the meal is free. you will also receive a t-shirt acknowledging the accomplishment a front row reserved parking spot at the wagon train and your picture on the wall of fame
If you fail your picture goes on the wall of shame and you will be billed $24.99
GOOD LUCK AND GOOD EATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I spoke with the owner, Rick, about what was in store for me. He said I was up against 3 other people, and I reminded him that I indeed was not and that I was competing against him and the restaurant; other peoples’ progress didn’t interest me. He showed off the shirt that was designed for the challenge.
At this point, people started pouring in. The man with the hospital identification bracelet was there, decked out in tons of chains and with newly dyed blonde hair. A bunch of people from the neighborhood showed up, and then my people started pouring in.
Also present were Cassie Cramer (@cassiecramer on twitter) who was busy taking most of the pictures you’re seeing here and Rosemaria (@RozinCP on twitter) who may appear in a below picture but brought her snazzy food scale which was used to meter the challenge for me.
The other challengers also arrived. One guy was hyped as a guy who drinks a case of beer a day and hadn’t drank in two days in preparation. There was a kid that nobody said really anything about. The last challenger was another kid whose father wouldn’t accept failure; this kid showed up irrationally starving and demanding food and also decided to sit directly across the table from me. More on this later.
As for me, I prepared for the challenge by living my life. I had wings and mozzarella sticks the night prior and, the morning of, I had a light breakfast, 2 eggs scrambled with 2 slices of bacon and 1 slice of wheat toast, in hopes that getting my metabolism going with a little protein would keep things moving during the challenge. I also chewed gum like a motherf*cker that morning, and drank water until 11:30am.
I had a few rules and preferences that I didn’t get to exercise because I wanted to respect the rules of the house. I did make sure I asked for the fries and rings to be cooked extra crispy, because there’s nothing worse than having to eat soggy fried food in mass quantities. To my disappointment, all of the challengers were going to be on the same timer, which upset me because Keith and Dorena hadn’t arrived, but what could I do?
Around 2pm, the platters came out. Rory, who wimped out of doing the challenge, had requested they serve everything on pizza pans, which weighed 0.75 lb. My platter weighed 5 lbs 1 oz including the pan.
And I immediately had to look at this for the next 30 minutes:
I took the top off the burger and pushed through the proteins. As I mentioned in an earlier post about Wagon Train BBQ, I have a bit of an issue with eating egg yolks when they’re not mixed into the white. I was eating brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, onion tanglers, jalapeno coins, and bacon before I got to the eggs and beef. I took an onion ring every here and there, but I really was dreading those eggs.
When I got to the egg, I pulled over the salt shaker and went to town. Around the 25 minute mark, I was still looking at a whole lot of burger. Around that time, the owner announced he’d give us another 15 minutes to complete the challenge.
Let me back up a little. Around the 10 minute mark, I was told the beer drinking guy already gave up and left. And I watched the kid nobody knew anything about get up and run into the bathroom to puke his guts out around that time. All the while I was just eating at a comfortable pace to continuing enjoying every bite and the kid in front of my face was filling his cheeks.
At the 25 minute point, I knew there was no way it was gonna happen, so I scraped away the egg and tried the burger and the slaw for the remainder of the time, just so I could say I tried every component. I also picked up my nWo heavyweight championship belt and put it on my shoulder.
As the 30 minute mark approached, I kept eating, but the pace slowed because I didn’t want to be sick. The food at Wagon Train BBQ is too good to associate with illness. Although, I made an input to the cook that the brisket could stand to be trimmed a little more prior to serving; I guess this is starting to become a pet peeve of mine.
At the 30 minute mark, The Graveyard Challenge was over for derryX. I had 3 lbs 1 oz of food remaining including the pan. I had eaten 2 lbs (40 %).
After I gave up, I spent time hanging out with the people who decided to dedicate some time during their Saturday afternoon to watch me make a fool of myself. Most of my friends ordered food, and I heard a lot of good things about what they were eating. So I would call my participation a success.
But The Graveyard Challenge wasn’t over for one man. And that man was actually a kid who looked like this at around the 30 minute mark:
This kid wouldn’t give up. His father was even whispering some very “Cobra Kai” things into his ear. Things like, “you’re the only one who’s ever gonna finish this,” and “second place is no place,” and “the enemy deserves no mercy” (the last one isn’t true). But even he couldn’t take down the graveyard. After about an hour total, he gave up with 2lbs remaining including the pan. I was enjoying a freshly baked brownie at that point.
Actually, within the time this kid was still eating, I was told that people were picking off of my plate, which I’m not sure how I feel about. Ok I am sure that it’s gross, but I wasn’t gonna do anything about it. Also, I had trimmed a sizable piece of fat from the brisket and placed it on a folded piece of paper on the table during my part of the challenge; once I was done, someone opened the paper, and the kid who was still eating saw it and started to gag a little. It was funny.
I also got around and spoke with some of the rest of the staff. A mascot came around and I posed for a picture with him:
There are also tons of other stories that can be told from the event, but they’re getting chalked up in the category of “you had to be there” stories because, if you missed it, you missed out. I had a wonderful time seeing a whole bunch of people I am honored to consider my friends and eating great food.
(anyone who thinks I was actually going to complete this needs to remember that I’m not a professional eater. I don’t do this kind of stuff all the time. Anything I do that even comes close to this is because I’m a fat slob who likes to eat, and sometimes in excessive quantities. I did actually try, though; however, I was more interested in enjoying the food, like I mentioned above.)
I’d encourage people to make the trip out to Wagon Train BBQ. It may be a little bit out of your way, but you’ll eat good, even if you don’t do the Graveyard Challenge.