When I heard about DraftKings Candy Bowl Steeplechase, I thought “wow, that’s a lot of candy!” And then somehow through a combination of hubris, Slack brainstorming, and the drive to challenge myself in ways that are inherently painful, I ended up attempting to complete the competition myself.
The opportunity to expense over $40 worth of drug store candy to my employer was far too good to pass up. And if I was going to stuff sugar that can be weighed by the kilogram in my mouth, I figured let’s do it at one of my favorites places in my hometown, ZooTampa. At least the majority of its residents don’t care how they look when they dine. Shame is out the window when it comes to competitive eating, so I might as well join my fellow mammals.
The biggest issue with the challenge is that you’re starting with the most difficult confection: Candy corn. There are plenty of opinions on candy corn (here’s a horrible one from my boss), but none of them involve “ooh it’s so delicious I can’t wait to stuff as many in my mouth as soon as I open the bag!”
The first inhalation tasted like I poured a scoop of Domino granulated sugar right into my throat, and it was at that exact instant I knew I was in trouble. You can hear me begging for more water despite having two full bottles next to me. I knew what was coming, and what was coming was bad.
The M&M’s are pretty manageable, and those might get completed by a professional eater if swallowed whole as in pill form and not chewed (my mistake). But once you hit the mini-bars (KitKat’s, Milky Way, Snickers) filled with chocolate, peanut butter, nougat and more that sticks to all parts of your mouth, there is literally not enough fresh water in the Western Hemisphere for the liquid you need to consume the entire 16 ounces. It cannot be done. It won’t be done, and that is my prediction for this contest: Exactly zero competitive eaters finish this.
By the time we got to the end and my actual favorite, the Mini Reese’s Cups, I wanted to fight anyone from the ancient cultures that cursed our planet with this awful torment known as “chocolate.” I could have been handed a gold bar for each one swallowed and still not been able to do anymore. I’ll never look at my favorite pick-me-up from the cashier line at the supermarket the same way again.
As for how I felt... about five minutes afterwards, I wanted to die. I thought I was going have a “reversal” as it’s known in competitive eating, but at no point did that happen even when I got home. But as I chatted with some folks from the Zoo that were kind enough to give me a tour of their new facilities, I thought I might christen them right on the spot.
I got home and laid down and saw some stars for a bit, but weirdly about four hours later... I was absolutely starving. They don’t call candy empty calories for nothing. I polished off a steak that felt pretty good, and hopefully started to even out my blood sugar. I was fine by the time I went to bed.
And so I wish the best to the real competitors on the Las Vegas Strip tomorrow, and the winner will deserve the trophy they earn.
But they’re not finishing this challenge. No way, not happening.