We tried Tommy’s Burger Challenge. It didn’t go well.

Tommy's Ultimate Burger Challenge consists of consuming a 3lb burger, a poutine and a milkshake in one hour.
Tommy's Ultimate Burger Challenge consists of consuming a 3lb burger, a poutine and a milkshake in one hour.

Nick: Meat is murder — or maybe 3 lbs. of it is. 

Katie: Tuesday night, Nick and I tested our stomachs in “Tommy’s Ultimate Burger Challenge” — a 3lb burger topped with three fried eggs, eight strips of bacon and four slices of Canadian cheddar, nestled between buttered Ciabatta, with a generous serving of poutine and a 20oz milkshake — all to be consumed in one hour. 

Nick: It’s roughly equivalent to eating six bacon cheeseburgers in a row or having a mild heart attack. 

Katie: I’m very new to The Journal, so when our Lifestyle Editor, Erika, said she needed someone to attempt the challenge for this week’s Postscript, I figured this was my chance to step up my game. You know, make an impression, take one for the team, make my name known. Katie: the girl who tried to eat a burger the size of a newborn. Excellent. 

Nick: I was coming back to defend the title. I already had a reputation for eating anything that isn’t kale or nailed down and this was my chance to prove it. But all those late night raids into my kitchen and general garburator-like behaviour couldn’t prepare me for Tuesday night and the mass amount of meat I would be pushing down my throat. 

Katie: We both tried a variety of stomach-expanding strategies leading up to the challenge. 

Nick: Friends and “experts” on Yahoo Answers said I should have a big meal the night before to expand my stomach. I trust the Internet so I went ahead and ate an entire pizza followed by Ben and Jerry’s half baked ice cream and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 

On the day of the challenge, I ate as little as I could, consuming one sandwich in the morning and chugging litres of water throughout the day. 

Katie: I did about the same. I worked out for a couple hours as well to try to build up an appetite. When it was finally game time and we arrived at Tommy’s I’d say we were both extremely hungry. And a bit nervous (or at least I was).

Nick: Same. My eating sweatpants exuded confidence but all the warnings about puking were getting to me.

Katie: Walking into Tommy’s, I was confident in the challenge right up until the staff told us that they’ve yet to see a winner. Soon after, Tommy himself came to speak with us. He’s a really cool guy! He said he was hoping that we would be the ones to finally complete his challenge. I was the first woman to try so far, so that was pretty sweet in itself. 

Nick: He dropped hints that tonight might be the night. Around 15 people came in recently to wreak havoc on their digestive systems and none of them could do it. I think he hoped that The Journal would succeed where varsity sports and military teams failed.

Katie: When the server brought out the meal we (our supportive colleagues came out for the show!) were all shocked. The poutine and milkshake were regular-sized, but the burger was seriously MASSIVE. 

Nick: This burger has a density that’s roughly proportional to a dying star. It was the size of my head, taking up about half of the table in front of me. 

Katie: Several spectators came by to take pictures and cheer us on. I tried to keep a slow, steady pace the whole time. Our friends helped us out by suggesting different methods to alter the leering appearance of the burger, such as cutting it into smaller portions using a fork and knife. I also tried putting the fries in the burger or soaking the bread in water — a technique used by world champion competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi.

Nick: As soon as I got the burger I started chomping down. There was no strategy, no trick passed down from hot dog eating champion to hot dog eating champion. The hour time limit had me spooked so much that I thought devouring was the only way.

Until I started experiencing the meat sweats.

Meat sweats, for the uninitiated, are when you’re eating so much meat that you start sweating. As I shed layers and dabbed my forehead with napkins, the challenge got to me. Icarus flew too close to the sun and I tried to eat a 3lb burger.

Katie: I was really feeling it too. I definitely puked in my mouth a few times. I think I struggled most with the dryness of the burger. Once my milkshake and water was done, ketchup was really the only thing keeping me going. 

Nick: Likewise, after the poutine and milkshake I had to take a break to stretch. I plugged in my earphones to Run The Jewels, hoping that socially aggravated hip-hop would take the wheel.  

Katie: Unfortunately, when we realized there was only 15 minutes left and we still both had half the burger to eat, I think we internally admitted defeat. 

Nick: You can’t win ’em all. I can will myself through a rough situation. I can’t, however, will my body to death through eating. At this point, my eyes drooped as a food coma set in. But I’ve seen enough sports movies to know you can still win a moral victory. In the last five minutes, I rallied willpower to take a final bite of the now-unrecognizable burger. 

Katie: By the end, we both finished the poutine and milkshake and more than half of the burger. I honestly felt like the ground beef was sitting at the top of my throat, physically blocking the entrance. Jesus, I was going to explode.

Ultimately, despite our mental perseverance, I think it wasn’t physically possible without actual training. It’s like marathon running. I mean, I think I’d be able to do it, but I’d have to train. There are people that actually choose to eat that much competitively. 

It’s crazy. 

Nick: I’m walking away with a tremendous respect for professional eaters. Make no mistake: these people are athletes. Granted, I might spend my future time getting good at something else like Spanish or the trumpet. But eating a lot of food is as physically and mentally demanding as any race. As I waddled off with my doggy bag, I took solace in that knowledge. As for the burger, half of it is still sitting in my fridge. 


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