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A brutal eating challenge asks punters to eat a yard-long pizza and a bowl of macaroni and cheese in just 15 minutes.
The Tank and Paddle in the City of London has run the Dude vs Dough challenge since it opened. It's all about speed and rewards successful eaters with a £50 bar tab, a t-shirt and a picture on their winner’s wall.
“Only 15% of people who take the challenge manage it. People tap out," said deputy manager Billy.
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“One guy's hands started shaking so much he couldn’t bite – the only person I've seen do it was a rugby player.”
It’s a 3,100-calorie gorge fest with no time to breathe, let alone taste any of the £25 meal in front of you.
It’s a little over 200 calories a minute. After just 10 minutes, challengers have eaten the full recommended daily calories for an adult woman. If they finish it, they've had enough calories for a day and a half.
I headed down to the bar chain's original Minster Court spot on a grey and drizzly day and couldn't escape the feeling the weather was trying to convince me of my own imminent failure.
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The night before I’d told a couple of mates what I was doing and explained what was in store.
“No chance,” said one. “More chance of my Nan rocking up at that boozer, and she sadly passed away in 2009.”
Fair to say then, that as I placed my order with Billy, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident about my chances.
Billy wouldn’t tell me anything. A good professional, he refused to give me any kind of insight into how successful challengers had approached it in the past.
Their pictures were on the wall, and so were the times they did it in. Smug grins of winners in their winner’s t-shirts, starring at me, urging me to fail miserably.
I was feeling nervous. I hadn’t eaten all day in preparation for the challenge and had hit a snag early on when I’d accidentally been sent to the wrong branch.
A misplaced pint later and all I had in my system was two units on an otherwise empty stomach.
When the pizza turned up, the scale of the monster food challenge I was facing hit me. It was huge, half my height and decked out with heavy cheese.
You can get any pizza you want on the menu – I had opted for a BBQ chicken arrangement and I could tell Billy thought I was an idiot for not getting a margarita, but I didn’t care.
The words of my non-believing mates still ringing in my ears, I thought the least I could do was enjoy it.
Adding Billy to the list of people who thought I was a coward, I set off with a burning desire to prove my doubters wrong.
I opted for a tube approach, cutting the long thin pizza into three before rolling them up into a trio of pizza fajitas.
Giving the mac n cheese a stir to let it cool, I tucked into pizza role number one.
The food is great, genuinely good pizza that made me wish I could slow down and enjoy it. But today was not the day for that.
By the time I started on the third and final roll, the clock was in decent nick but I could feel my stomach starting to get weighted and resistant to the dairy and dough I was shoving down my throat.
Feeling the famous hand tremors, a large gag led to a small mouth sick. Fighting through tears I got the final roll down to the crust before scooping the mac n cheese onto the board and shovelling it onto the spoon with the pizza slice.
My stomach screamed at me like the rev metre on a car going 60mph in second gear, but now wasn't the time to slow down.
The end was in sight, and as I gulped the final mouthful of mac n crust medley down, top bloke Billy stopped the clock and told me my pain was over. 11 minutes 56 seconds, in case you were wondering.
So, head on down to the Tank and Paddle and look at the winner's wall where you can see my smug little face with a smug little grin holding my winner's t-shirt and urging you to fail miserably.
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