Back in the day, an eating contest meant scarfing down a few hot dogs, or sticking your face in a berry pie or two. Today, it can mean a trip to the emergency room.
Yes, thanks to shows like Man vs. Food, extreme eating is all the rage, and for one cook at Jimmy's World Grill and Bar in London, England's O2 arena, scarfing down a few super-hot chicken wings proved to be more than he could handle.
According to the Daily Mail, cook Arif Ali decided to test out a hot chilli sauce he had concocted for a hot wings contest that was to be held at the restaurant. The sauce contained Naga Bhut Jolokia chillis (also known as the "ghost pepper"), which are hotter than pepper spray and are only meant to be handled with latex gloves. They measure around 250,000 of Scoville units -- a scale that measures the hotness of peppers.
But that didn't stop Ali, who according to onlookers, ate one chicken wing doused in the sauce, began sweating and then continued eating. It wasn't until he'd eating three that he began gulping down milk and water and gasping for air. As customers watched, Ali collapsed at the table and was carried out by fellow staffers who rushed him to the hospital. He reportedly suffered severe stomach cramps and diarrhea for the following week.
The sauce, which was supposed to be featured in the restaurant's eating challenge, has wisely been shelved in the interest of customer safety. Luckily, Ali will recover.
The same may not be true of Nachatar Brar, a resident of Surrey, British Columbia, who choked during an eating competition this past Saturday. Brar was taking part in the city's Diwali celebrations, which included a gulab jamun eating competion. Gulab jamun is a round deepfried pastry covered in sweet syrup that is very popular in India.
According to the Vancouver Desi, the 35-year-old father choked shortly after the contest and was rushed to hospital where he remains on life support.
It's the sort of news that makes you long for simpler times, when food was consumed for reasons other than victory -- like taste and nutrition.