Sometimes, I forget to be a good mom and will neglect to do things like warn my nine-year-old son that if he partakes of the American Legion’s All-You-Can-Eat Biscuit and Gravy Breakfast, he probably shouldn’t enter the festival pizza eating contest a few hours later. He was downing a third slice when I noticed a slight gray pallor to his face. Before I could reach him, it all came back up, splattering the stage with pepperonis, partially digested gravy, and slimy chunks of biscuit.
It was so revolting that other contestants began dropping out. But one hillbilly gal, who bore a strong resemblance to Augustus Gloop, stayed strong. Her daddy, wearing cut-off jeans, white socks, and black patent shoes, tucked a thumb under the strap of his suspenders, raised a greasy, half-eaten, turkey leg into the air and proudly called out, “That’s ma baby gurl!”
After that, I tried to discourage my children from participating in such contests, but unfortunately, small town Indiana doesn’t offer much to do on a Friday night. Throughout their teen years, food challenges have become a regular source of entertainment.
Most of the time, I am not privy to their endeavors, but sooner or later the video surfaces on YouTube. There, for all the world to see, is my lovely, presumably feminine, daughter filling her mouth with Pop Rocks and attempting to wash them down with Coke. The spew is impressive, but I try not to encourage her.
Another time it was buttermilk, vinegar, orange juice, baked beans, creamed corn, chicken broth, soy sauce, and sardines blended and chugged through a baby bottle. They gnawed off the nipple in order to allow chunks to pass through. A proud moment for this mom.
The food challenges take place in the public arena as well. My sister, who is young enough to be cool, but old enough to be a bad example, took my daughter out for a ten-pound pizza. If completed, they would receive $200 cash.
Instead, it went like this:
Ten pound pizza-$50
Bottle of Pepto Bismol-$4.26
Three hours of wandering the streets to rid oneself of indigestion before driving-Priceless!
Finally, my kids convinced me to tag along on one of their foodie expeditions. I like to think they enjoy my company, but they really just needed financial backing. We made our way to Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream, where Adam Richman of the Travel Channel show “Man v. Food” had once attempted the Big Ugly Challenge.
They each ordered a Big Ugly Burger, consisting of a 22oz patty and a huge bun brushed with a full stick of butter. The reward for those who complete this monstrosity? His or her picture posted on the wall for a full year. Yeah, that’s definitely worth a ruptured gut.
I finished my “Not So Ugly” burger, and then waited with anticipation to see which of my darling children would finish their sandwich first. The excitement mounted with each nauseating bite. They had been training for years, and were eager to have their pictures on “the wall.”
With only a few bites left, son started looking a bit gray. He excused himself from the table while his younger sister continued eating. And eating. And eating. A cheering crowd gathered, watching in amazement as this blonde beauty took a deep breath and shoved the final bite into her mouth. The waitress pulled out the Polaroid, and pride swelled from deep within my heart. Tucking one thumb into my belt loop, I raised a greasy onion ring into the air and shouted, “That’s ma baby gurl!”