Capital Region food challenges

wagon train graveyard challenge by jay travis

The Graveyard Challenge at the Wagon Train BBQ in Schenectady County.

By Casey Normile

Do you ever get to the end of a meal and think, "I should be rewarded for how much I ate just now?"

Well, finally, your hard work and determination can be recognized. There are plenty of food challenges in the area where those with a hearty appetite and a willing spirit can pit their powers of digestion against an impossible amount of food.

Grab a fork...

Isle of Man Irish Breakfast Challenge - Dorothy O'Day's Irish Pub
22 Clifton Country Rd # 39, Clifton Park, NY 12065
dorothy o'day's challenge

A mountain of corn beef hash
6 Irish bangers (sausages)
A half-pound of bacon
Home fries
A side of Texas toast
13 eggs cooked any way you like

Time: 30 minutes
Cost: $35
Prize: Breakfast is on the house, a free t-shirt and their picture on the Wall of Fame
Number of champions: 3

The challenge was the brainchild of the owner and the executive chef who didn't want to do the same old wing challenge that most places do. And while most guests cheer the challengers on, they also don't want to get too close for fear of, well, something coming back up. The most memorable challenger was the guy who tried to wash down the Breakfast Challenge with alcohol.

26-Inch Colossal Pizza Challenge - Cusato's Pizzeria & Deli
1600 Altamont Ave, Schenectady, NY 12303

3 pounds of dough
2 pounds of cheese
1 pound of tomato sauce
Ten slices of pizza about 12 in. long and 7 in. wide at the crust

Time: 1 hour
Cost: $22.50
Prize: the pizza is free, a gift certificate to the store and a second Colossal on the house.
Number of champions: Only 4 people in about 3 and half years

Store manager Paolo Citone said, "We've had people of all shapes and sizes try it, but the only people who have been able to do it were small scrawny kids. The demographic is like 18 year-old guys weighing in at about 120 pounds."

The Graveyard Burger - Wagon Train BBQ
671 Mariaville Rd, Schenectady, NY 12306
wagon train exterior wagon
What might be needed to take you away if you complete the Graveyard Challenge.

1 pound black angus beef patty
4 slices of cheese
2 fried eggs
6 slices of bacon
8 oz. of pulled pork
8 oz. of beef brisket
8 oz. of cole slaw
8 oz. of mac and cheese
Onion tanglers
Jalapeno peppers
1 pound of onion rings and french fries
All on a "genormous" fresh baked roll

Time: 30 minutes
Cost: $34.95
Prize: A free t-shirt, a reserved front parking spot for 30 days and your burger is free.
Number of champions: 0

The Fatboy Challenge - Daurizio's Pizza
2315 Curry Rd, Schenectady, NY 12303

1 Fat Boy pizza with 2 meat toppings
20 Fat Boy wings
I order garlic knots
1 order cinnamon knots
2 liters of soda

Time: 2 people have 1 hour or less
Cost: $100
Prize: $500, Fat Boy t-shirts and their picture on the Wall of Fame
Number of champions: 0

About 10 teams have tried so far and the closest were "Munchin" Mike Longo and Joel "The Cannon" Podesky who have done food challenges up and down the coast. They still had 2 slices of pizza left and about 6 garlic knots left.

Colossal Pancake Challenge - The Ugly Rooster
159 N Main St, Mechanicville, NY 12118
ugly rooster pancake challenge

2 12-inch pancakes
1 pound of fruit (your choice of filling)
Big scoops of butter and whipped cream

Time: 20 minutes
Cost: $15
Prize: the meal is free, free t-shirt, your picture on the Wall of Fame
Number of champions: Only one person has completed it. (Over 158 have tried.)

Beat the Record - Famous Lunch
111 Congress St, Troy, NY 12180
famous lunch troy exterior 2013-April

Ingredients: As many mini hot dogs with the works that you can eat.
Number to beat:
For an individual, 39 hot dogs in 30 minutes (Scott Lovelace, 2011)
For a group, 810 hot dogs by 38 people (RSE Fraternity, 2002)
Time: 30 minutes
Cost: If you beat the record, your dogs are free. If not, you're paying for as many as you ate.
Prize: A free Famous Lunch t-shirt with your name and record on it and you get your name on the menu

"We've got a lot of big talkers and not a lot of action," said employee Shaun Cronin. "Most people slow down at around 20. A buddy of mine tried it and got to 35 hot dogs in about 15 minutes. But then he got cocky and started doing sit ups. But then he had to take a trip to the bathroom... let's just say he lost."

The Burning Human Challenge - Basil City
2304 Hutton St, Troy, NY 12180

10 Burning Human Wings (sauce is made with ghost pepper extract)
No dipping sauces allowed
No drinks allowed
Time: 3 minutes or less
Cost: $7.99
Prize: your meal is free and you get your photo on their Wall of Fame (but...if you lose, your picture goes on their Wall of Shame and they doodle on your face)
Number of champions: 23

Graveyard challenge photo: Jay Travis | Ugly Rooster photos courtesy of the Ugly Rooster | Dorothy O'Day's photos courtesy of Dorothy O'Day's


There is challenge involving a giant pancake and I didn't know about it?!
I love you AOA.

My heart is beating too fast just reading this, yipes!


My friend Rob and I tried the pancake challenge at the Ugly Rooster. We went for a bike ride in the morning and were thinking that two 12-inch pancakes would be no sweat after. Then we told the waitress were going to try it and she got REALLY EXCITED. People were taking pictures and everything. Be warned, the pancakes are not really pancakes, sure they're 12 inches around, but they're also an inch or two thick, so it's like you're eating really sweet biscuits.

I got about 3/4 of the way through one and Rob didn't do any better. By the time we were tapping out, we were eating the butter plain because the sweetness of the fruit, filling, and whipped cream was just too much. Pancakes were never the same again.

This is why I love this website!

Come on wagon train bbq - just a free tshirt and not very useful parking spot? At least have a wall of fame like the rest!

@Chris: thanks for sharing, because I was going to do exactly the same. It's "Bike to work day" soon, I figured a 17 miles ride early morning, that should whet my appetite. I shall devise a new strategery now.

My boyfriend and I attempted the Graveyard Burger (together) and couldn't finish it! It was pretty amazing!

Yes! Thank you AOA for posting this!

I meet the demographic "skinny kid that weighs about 120 pounds".. I might try that pizza challenge..!

Ugly rooster im coming for you this weekend! Thats amatuer hour,everything else on this list is just plain dirty

Please T518, take some pictures/video and let us know how you did.

Lou-Bea's has a pizza eating contest. The same guy wins every year and I believe he eats 22 slices, which is more than 2 large pies.

Whoa, I was the first person to beat Cusato's Pizza challenge and I'm 5' 11'' and weigh 200lbs. Did you forget about me Cusato's??

Also, T518, the Ugly Rooster challenge is NOT amateur hour and may be one of the hardest on here. I've done many challenges, and won most, but lost to that one twice. It's nearly 5lbs of pancake (one of the hardest things you could eat in an eating challenge because it expands in your stomach), with 1lb of fruit and you have to eat it in 20 minutes! Also, they give you hardly any butter or whipped cream so for most of the challenge you're just eating dry cake. It gets really hard, really fast.

I mean no offense but we ought to consider how dumb it is to encourage people to eat massive amounts of food, often in brief spans of time. I know the postindustrial-affluent lifestyle lends itself to being rats on wheels, but I *hope* we still can use our mind for a bit of independent thinking here. Unless we are ready to admit material conditions completely dictate thinking and perception, binge eating for fun ought to be eschewed. Also, I almost forgot to mention how wasteful it all is as well.

Why is it dumb? It's fun and often gives these businesses a nice way to get some extra revenue and needed publicity. Is it healthy? No, but neither is drinking alcohol or eating fast food. But, if you only do these kind of things once in a while and maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of them you're perfectly fine. I've done about 15 eating challenges and am in better health and shape than 90% of people I know.

Also, it's not wasteful. First of all, only a handful of people typically try these things, and people do actually eat it all and enjoy it. I'm sure plenty of people take home the leftovers and eat them later too. Plus, the amount of people who do these challenges and don't finish isn't even CLOSE to the amount of people who waste food in restaurants or just on a daily basis in general. The restaurant industry wastes TONS of food everyday from people who don't finish or take it home. Do you always eat every single piece of food in front of you, and if not, do you always eat it later? Most likely no, and if you do, you're one of the few. People need to lighten up and learn to have a moments fun.

John, do you really not "get" what I mean or is this just a defensive response prompted by a sense of bad conscience?

I'm not a moralist, but things like this really show how vapid and distracted our culture has become. There are, after all, actual and important things that matter beyond suburban gluttony re-baptized as the need to "lighten up ." Gotta run, I DVR'd "Dancing with the Stars."

I guess I don't "get" what you mean because I don't see how occasionally having some fun by offering or participating in a food challenge shows how "vapid and distracted" our culture has become. That's exactly what I mean when I say to lighten up. You make it sound as if eating challenges are ruining society. Obviously you have an issue with shows like Dancing with the Stars too. Do you have an issue with anything that doesn't serve some other purpose aside from entertaining or allowing people to have fun, even if it's not harming anyone or anything?

There is a score correction needed for the Wagon Train's Graveyard challenge. It was beaten last December

A buddy and I completed the Muffaletta challenge at Nanola in Malta last night. Free $25 sandwich if you completed. We both finished the sandwiches and I also ate the fries that came with it. The olive tapenade became the enemy towards the end.

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