Ready, Set, EAT!

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Eat your heart out, Adam Richman. Food is one of the triune tenets of Milwaukee culture next to the Brewers and beer, and the city is just as competitive in eating as it is in baseball and drinking. The following Milwaukee food challenges are not for the faint of stomach, spanning across cholesterol-infused coronary killers, entrees of mythological proportions and tests sadistic enough to require its contestants to sign release waivers.

Photo by Dylan Huebner

Sobelman’s Pub & Grill

1900 W. St. Paul Ave.

1601 W. Wells St.

The clock was ticking; he was running out of time.

After nurturing dreams of vanquishing the unofficially named “Deca-Sobelman,” for almost two years, Marquette senior Peter Bolgert, was only a few greasy bites away from accomplishing his goal. Then, after snarfing a little more than nine patties in about a half hour, he hit the wall.

“That was sort of heartbreaking,” Bolgert said. “I honestly couldn’t go any further. I puked two hours later, and I heaved like five times. I never puked before that (in an eating contest), but I was so glad I did.”

Marquette’s resident burger joint hasn’t officially sanctioned any food challenges yet, but that hasn’t stopped its patrons from masterminding their own. Customers are able to order as many patties on their burgers as they wish, as long as they pay. Bolgert selected the Sobelman Burger for his personalized “Deca-Sobelman” food challenge, but the menu also contains 10 other burgers for your customization. To really tempt fate, choose the Loser Burger. Those not feeling as confident about stomaching the walk back to campus from Sobelman’s Pub and Grill should opt for Sobelman’s @Marquette, conveniently just blocks away from the nearest hospital.

“You can’t do anything for the rest of the night because you’re in a lot of pain,” Bolgert said. “You can’t sleep, and you can’t do much physical (activity) for two days.”

It certainly begs the question of why people enjoy partaking in these gut-busting competitions, which Bolgert initially struggled to answer. “It’s certainly amusing for other people,” Bolgert said. “And they love talking about it.”

If that’s enough motivation for you to launch your food challenge career, Bolgert recommends starting “small”… with a triple or quadruple Sobelman burger.


345 N. Broadway

The Wicked Hop decided to mandate legal protocol after concocting the nefarious, face-incinerating Ghost Pepper Wing Challenge. The Bhut Jolokia, known by its street name, the “Ghost Pepper,” is the hottest naturally grown pepper in the world, according to the Scoville rating scale.

401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, the ghost pepper has been weaponized into spray form for mob dispersal and self-defense purposes in India. Before the Ghost Pepper Wing Challenge made it onto the menu, the restaurant should have just been called The Hop.

As of now, only one human being has ever finished all 12 of the wicked wings within the 10-minute time limit without combusting into flames or requiring an emergency tongue transplant. Instead, he walked away with a free meal and a T-shirt commemorating his tastebud-toasting experience.


1625 W. Wells St.

Don’t feel like taking the bus downtown? Marquette students enamored by Real Chili’s cauldrons of coagulated beef, cheese and beans will probably enjoy the annual chili-eating contest hosted by the campus mainstay.

Every April, Real Chili offers unlimited bowls of their signature meal, the “Marquette Special,” for a 30-minute time period and a $20 entry fee. Last year’s winner, Gordon Scott, managed to slurp up nearly seven bowls.


2060 N. Humboldt Blvd.

For those with the appetite of a football player, head over to

experience firsthand how Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji bulks up in
the preseason.

The unorthodox B.J. Raji Burger is both a mouthful to eat and explain, consisting of a two pound beef patty, two hot Italian sausages, 12 ounces of French fries, 8 ounces of coleslaw, six slices of cheddar, six slices of Swiss, a Habenero pepper and a Dill pickle spear.

Joseph Kohut, a graduate student at Marquette, tackled the B.J. Raji Burger last summer on a whim.

“I went to Stubby’s because we heard they had good wings,” Kohut said. “When we arrived, the waiter told us about the challenge and we figured, ‘Why not?’”

About three-fourths of the way through, Kohut began to feel the burn from both the raw Habenero pepper and the sheer mass of the beastly burger.

“I pretty much gave up at that point, because tasting 4.5 pounds of the same stuff gets to be pretty tough,” Kohut said. “The mental block of ‘Why am I doing this?’ settled in early. Luckily, I got a second wind and took the whole thing down.”

But that didn’t stop Kohut from getting victory dessert at Cold Stone Creamery.

“I think the rush of winning conquered any pains,” Kohut said. “Any regrets I had were washed out when I got a call from a Travel Channel recruiter a few weeks later.”

Although the Travel Channel interview didn’t transpire in Kohut landing any time on cable television, he still doesn’t regret his
gut-busting feat.

Other notable Milwaukee food challenges:

Red Rock Saloon

1225 N. Water St.

Unforgiven Challenge

Featured on Man v. Food, this food challenge is two-pronged. It includes a half-pound burger topped with cheese and bacon wedged between two deep-fried chicken breasts and another identical beef patty with more cheese and bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion strings and a fried egg. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there: a basket of fries and six ghost pepper wings await those who gnaw their way through the Farm Burger.


AJ Bombers Bar and Restaurant

1241 N. Water St.

Squad Six Challenge

Devour a six-patty burger in less than six minutes.

Replay Sports Bar

2238 N. Farwell Ave.

Replay Burger Challenge

Snarf two deep-fried, one-pound burgers and two pounds of fries within 60 minutes.


729 N. Milwaukee St. AE2

The No-Way-Jose Burrito

Tipping the scales at 6 to 7 pounds and measuring around 2 and a half feet long, the behemoth burrito costs $26 for those unable to devour all of its chicken, beef and cheese in an hour; it’s free for those that do.


Pizza Shuttle

734 S. 5th St.

Largest Wisconsin Pizza Contest

On January 3, Reginald Buford and Desmond Taylor became the first dual team to vanquish Pizza Shuttle’s 12-pound, 28-inch pizza monstrosity within the 45-minute time allotment. They also took home a $500 check.