People can be pushed to their limits doing many things.
Whether it’s submitting a treacherous mountaintop or shooting for world records, humans have a competitive tendency to push themselves past what they previously thought possible.
Competition is exciting to watch, and new challenges are always on the horizon for those who seek greatness.
Competitive eating has gained tremendous popularity over the past decade, with events like the world-famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, along with Food Network show challenges putting competitive eating on the map.
There are a few great local options that present customers with a food challenge only the toughest people can conquer.
Chubby’s Barbeque in Emmitsburg has a mountainous challenge of burgers piled high.
Owner Thomas Caulfield has seen many customers attempt his notoriously difficult “Chubby’s Challenge.”
“Years and years ago, I was watching Food Network challenges on ‘Man v. Food,’ and I sat around trying to come up with something nobody could eat,’’ Caulfield said. Caulfield designed a double-stack of burgers, so tall that it would take someone of true willpower and discipline to beat it.
“We started it with eight half-pound burgers, with a Louisiana hot link sausage on each one,” he said. “The sausage weighs right around three ounces. With two slices of cheese on it, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.”
It’s a meal that dwarves a normal adult’s daily caloric intake, but with a one-hour time limit, the heat is on to put down as much food as you possibly can.
“We didn’t have anybody take the challenge and win for probably over a year,” Caulfield said. “One Sunday, we had a guy walk in and say he was here for the challenge. He had a little lady with him, and he said she was going to do it.”
When we think of the stereotypical person who can put down tremendous amounts of food, it’s always a huge, corn-fed husky guy who throws bales of hay like a football for a living. Not this time.
She was maybe five feet tall, and maybe 90 pounds,” he said. “While she’s waiting for her burger challenge, she had two beers, which is just not what you want before a food challenge.”
“She proceeds to eat it all within 45 minutes, with a smile on her face the whole time. She just went through it like she was walking through a garden,” Caulfield said.
The first person to complete the challenge was Bethesda, Maryland’s Juliet Lee, who was a world-renowned competitive eater. “She won her $100, left, and came back about an hour later and got a pulled pork sandwich, a side of Chubby potatoes, and $119 worth of food to go,” Caulfield said.
There have been just a few anomalies among the many who have taken on the Chubby’s Challenge.
“Over the years, we’ve probably had 150 to 200 people try it, and just 6 people do it,”
Chubby’s has had one more visit from a patron cut from a different cloth than the rest of us.
Molly Schuyler, world-record holder and competitive eating champion, made a stop at Chubby’s in 2019 to get her photo plastered behind the bartop at the restaurant.
“She did the challenge in about five minutes and 40 seconds,” Caulfield said. “After, I got her name and phone number, and I called and said, ‘I bet you can’t do two of them, and if you can, I’ll give you 500 dollars.’”
Schuyler was able to do a double Chubby’s Challenge in 29 minutes, 1 second, something most people previously thought to be impossible.
“Her boyfriend, who was also a competitive eater, ordered one of everything on the menu,” Caulfield said. “He couldn’t finish everything, so she finished what he didn’t eat [after her challenge].”
Nobody is forced to do two Chubby’s Challenges, but the option to solidify your name as Chubby’s royalty is there for the taking if you can reach it.
Good barbecue strikes our tastebuds like nothing else out there.
There are so many choices for the cut of meat, though. You’ve got brisket, ribs, beef tips, pork, and various other options. Once you’ve had good barbecue, you crave that sweet and smoky flavor.
Bollinger’s Restaurant in Thurmont has a barbecue challenge to light up your taste buds.
“We started it about four years ago,” Bollinger’s Restaurant owner Josh Bollinger said. “It’s a sandwich and fries challenge.”
It doesn’t get much more American than a stack of meats on a bun, layered in barbecue sauce. “There’s 14 ounces of brisket, 14 ounces of ham, 14 ounces of pulled pork, and 4 ounces of coleslaw, and it has one big order of fresh-cut French fries with it,” Bollinger said.
That’s a sandwich big enough to intimidate just about any challenger. Patrons have just 20 minutes to clear their plates, and a few have risen to the occasion when faced with this monster sandwich.
“It’s roughly three-and-a-half to four pounds,” Bollinger said. “We’ve probably only had five or six people complete it. When they do complete it, it’s always under 10 minutes; they crush it.”
Winners get their meal free, a T-shirt, their picture posted up on Bollinger’s Restaurant social media, and likely tremendous indigestion for the rest of the night. Those who are strong enough to put all that food away can claim that they’ve gone where few have before them.
Bollinger has tried his own challenge to see how he measures up to the behemoth sandwich. “I was one bite away from finishing it,” he said. “My jaw hurt so bad, I couldn’t chew anymore.”
He may still take another crack at the challenge, this time with an empty stomach and the mental preparedness to overcome that much barbecue. “I might have to try it again one day, you never know.”
You don’t have to travel far to find some great food options and test your willpower at the dinner table. There are local spots to satiate the appetites of the world’s greatest food champions right here in Northern Frederick County. You just have to know where to look.
Juliet Lee of Bethesda, Maryland, a world-renowned competitive eater and the first person to complete the “Chubby’s Challenge” at Chubby’s Barbeque in Emmitsbug.
A contestant takes on two towering stacks of Chubby’s Avalanche burgers.
The Bollinger’s Restaurant challenge puts on the pressure, giving challengers just 20 minutes to finish this huge sandwich and fries.