The 6 Toughest Eating Challenges in St. Louis and One Foolish Man's Attempt to Beat Them All


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5 Malt Challenge | Zach Garrison

5 Malt Challenge
$25
Crown Candy Kitchen
(1401 St. Louis Avenue; 314-621-9650)

Welcome to the granddaddy of food challenges, destroying stomachs and wreaking havoc on internal plumbing for 100 years. Crown Candy Kitchen has easily seen thousands of individuals try to down five malt milkshakes in 30 minutes, and only 30 have succeeded. Their names can be read on a small gold plaque on the wall.

I had barely recovered from the Train Wreck (thanks in large part to my Smooth Move tea), and in hindsight, yet another influx of dairy was probably a bad idea. But Crown Candy's handmade malted shakes are legendary -- three scoops of ice cream, whole milk, syrup and, most importantly, malt powder combine to make a thick, creamy delicacy. When the 120 ounces of malted milkshake (roughly one gallon of dairy) were presented in shiny silver glasses, suddenly I was salivating over all that malty goodness.

It breaks down like this: Five ice-cold stainless-steel vessels are brought out, each filled with 24 ounces of whatever flavor I chose. (I went with three chocolate, one marshmallow and one strawberry.) I was then given an eight-ounce classic soda-shop glass, and after some complicated long division, I deduced that from each 24-ounce container, I would get three full glasses of malted milkshake.

I started off by filling two-thirds of my glass with chocolate, and then topped it off with marshmallow and strawberry before swirling it all together. I stuck in my straw and sucked down half the glass in one go. I knew it was crucial to keep up the pace, but after a second gulp, the inevitable happened: brain freeze, or as the scientist call it, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

I was warned to watch out for brain freeze, but there's no way around it. Before I finished the first eight-ounce glass, my head ached and my teeth were chattering. The key to any challenge is to go as fast as possible, preventing your stomach from realizing that it has reached capacity. But in order to dull the pain, I had to drink some water and take a quick break.

By glass No. 2, my pace had slowed considerably. I held my head in my hands as I slurped up the last of the glass, rubbing my temples in desperation. I struggled through glass No. 3 and slowly poured in No. 4 (milkshake No. 2), but my real enemy was time -- only ten minutes remained. My pacing was poor. I was in the process of finishing milkshake No. 2 -- glass No. 6 -- when the timer went off.

Aftermath: Once again, constipation. Maybe I hadn't truly recovered from my previous challenge, or maybe the malted milk is particularly good at clogging up the pipes. Whatever the case, I know this: I was plugged up like the dike from the Little Dutch Boy.

Difficulty: +++
My inability to unhinge my jaw and ignore the icy chill enveloping my brain was ultimately my undoing. If I could have just sat there all day, eventually I think I could have finished, which would have roughly equated to 5,000 calories.

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38 comments
TripleRPhotography
TripleRPhotography

How does the Inferno compare to the level 100 bowl at the Pearl Cafe? I'm working on my second King of Spice (next is level 50 again) just so I can get the black t-shirt. I got paint on my white one. I'd never try to eat volume, but I do love the spice!

Chris M. Jessen
Chris M. Jessen

I would like to see a restaurant offer a different kind of eating challenge... one where you eat a reasonable portion and then place a few dollars on a "gift card" for the homeless, to be redeemed at any number of downtown restaurants for food.

Tania Novak
Tania Novak

With all the hungry people in the world and the overwhelming amount on food stamps, I think man vs food or any eating competion is just plain wasteful. We need to do something a little more constructive with our time.

David Jones
David Jones

LOL Sounds like our run in with ghost chilis Jon Hiltz... I still want to try it though lol

Jon Hiltz
Jon Hiltz

David Jones check out the last one

Adam Usher
Adam Usher

What about Pearl Cafe's eating challenge?

Andrew Stapleton
Andrew Stapleton

Ha. I think I laughed after reading every challenge. Ready to try them myself.

Charlie Hasseldiek
Charlie Hasseldiek

Josh Call ten Braun I didn't read it but it sounds like your bag...baby

estielmo
estielmo

Personally, I think food challenges are weird, but that's just me. I had the good fortune to work at Pointers for a couple years and observed the Pointersaurus Challenge a few times. You could never tell from physique how well they would do.
The one thing I always noted that beyond the gluttony factor of the challenge the pie itself is an impressive thing to behold. It was always a joy to me to see the eyes of the people in an office or school when I walked in the door. It is a party pizza beyond compare!

Randall Santel
Randall Santel

I have completed the important 4. I only do spicy challenges for money and even then I don't like them. & the reuben & burger one is just really small Chris Haggard. That's a good article though!! He should have at least done a little research before attempting them. He just needs Foodchallenges.com which will be live in April!

Chris Haggard
Chris Haggard

Randall Santel have you completed all of these?

AJ Purdy
AJ Purdy

need to tell him to come to stony hill missouri and try our burger challenge

Robert Clyburn
Robert Clyburn

I have attempted a couple of these. Reading his experience made me laugh and wince all at once.

Scott Plackemeier
Scott Plackemeier

They all sound like mild torture to be honest. And I think the last one violates the Geneva Convention.

Sharon Johnson
Sharon Johnson

Well, you are a brave guy. And this will help me in my future trip to St. Louis to know where to dine. The Whistle Stop is surely on my agenda.

Elli Snyder
Elli Snyder

I might have tried this when I was younger and dumber. I once won an ice cream eating contest.

1234
1234

meanwhile, in places of the world where people are starving to death............

bridgework125
bridgework125

So…how much have YOU donated to feeding the homeless, lately?  Or, are you just making yourself "appear" to be compassionate; making yourself "feel" better with your intentions?  Lead by example, my friend.

bridgework125
bridgework125

You take the lead, Tania.  Tell us what you've done to feed the hungry people in the world.  Be specific.

jeffamullersman
jeffamullersman

I've taken Pearl Cafes Challenge and passed level 25. That place is awesome. Food is amazing!

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