If you ever find yourself in Amarillo, TX with a growling stomach because that protein bar you had for breakfast just didn’t cut it, there’s a lovely establishment known as the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Given that everything’s bigger in Texas, it’s safe to assume when THESE guys say big, it must be enormous. How enormous? 4 ½ lbs. worth of enormity, that’s how much. And if you manage to keep down that, plus an order of shrimp cocktail, a salad, a buttered roll and a baked potato it’s on the house. Forget to butter your roll and I guess you’re screwed. If, instead, you find yourself in St. Louis with a hankering for pizza, you can hit Pointer’s, which has an 11 ½ lb. pizza that spans a total of 28 inches. Manage to finish it with the help of a partner (i.e. someone equally as stupid) in 1 hour, and not only is the pizza free, but you win $500. Prefer a little dessert? Hightail it to Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont and stick your face in their “Vermonster” which contains 20 scoops of ice cream (over half a gallon), 4 bananas, 3 chocolate chip cookies, hot fudge, 18 scoops of toppings and whipped cream.
I realize that this country has an infatuation with size, most likely because until recently it’s been run by nothing but men, but what the hell, people? While portion sizes have tripled in the last ten years, some restaurants are actually flaunting ridiculously sized servings for entertainment value and profiting from our stupidity. Beth’s Café in Seattle will gladly serve you up a 12-egg ham and cheese omelet with so many hash browns and toast that it has to be served on a pizza tray. The Eagle’s Deli in Boston is known for its 3 lb. hamburger sandwich (6 half-pound burgers), which is stacked with a total of ¼ lb. of cheese and plated with 5—yes 5—pounds of french fries. But not to EVER allow ourselves to be outdone by a Bostonian, in Jersey we have the Clinton Station Diner, which serves a gastronomical delicacy known as Mt. Olympus, the 50 lb. burger. Finish it in 4 hours with the help of 4 friends and it’s free (I think the barf bag is complementary as well), and you get to split the $1,000 prize. That’s 10 pounds of beef per person—about 40 normal patties—not including the cheese, the lovely veggies and the bun. Guesstimates would put that at over 12,000 calories PER PERSON. Michigan’s Mallie’s Sports Grill holds the record for the world’s largest burger (150 lbs.), but given that they’re not trying to make you and a small group of idiots consume it on your own, we can forgive them—sort of.
On occasion, I try (unsuccessfully) to eat a ½ lb. burger at Fuddruckers with nothing but sautéed onions (and only the bottom half of the bun) and when I do, I feel great at the onset, and disgusting by the time I’m done. But I guess I’m in the minority, because websites like supersizedmeals.com and TV shows like Man v. Food are getting plenty of enthusiastic attention. I’d like to think it’s the morbid curiosity that draws in viewers—that, “Holy shit, look at that schmuck try to eat that thing” mentality—where you can play the odds on whether or not the food will wind up getting spewed up onto the camera lens. And I’d also like to think that the people who take on these challenges should perhaps be excused because they simply don’t have the mental capacity to know any better. But, then again, I’d like to think that that’s Burt Reynold’s real hair, too.