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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