“NO, NO, NO! You are going to finish this! You run marathons!”
It was my brother-in-law. He noticed that I looked ill. I frantically made hand signals for the bucket. I felt food coming up my esophagus, but I was standing, staring at the ceiling and breathing deeply. I felt extremely nauseous… I just ate 12 dozen oysters.
Months ago I caught a syndicated episode of Man Vs Food. Adam Richman completed the ACME 15 Dozen Oyster challenge in New Orleans, LA. He made it look so easy in 21 minutes, and I had delusions of grandeur. After I completed the NYC Triathlon, I had a trip scheduled for New Orleans. I was going to attempt the challenge the moment I landed.
Unfortunately that did not happen. We had to meet a group and met at Dooky Chase at the airport. I gulped a large Abita Turbodog and worried about the challenge.
After we checked into our airbnb house we walked down Bourbon Street. The guys moved into Jester’s for Jester Juice. I waited in line at Acme.
The line was short but the wait was about an hour. I waited outside and filled out the paperwork.
Along with acknowledging health risks of consuming raw food, the challenge had the following restrictions:
- 60 minute time limit
- Allowed one bathroom break must be accommodated by employee.
- Sit at the bar.
- Consume 15 dozen oysters. No choice.
- No vomiting.
- If I fail, pay 100% of the bill (~$300). If I succeed, pay 50% of the bill.
When I sat at the bar, I looked at the oyster shuckers. They gave me looks of disbelief, as if it was the first year Takeru Kobayashi entered the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest. They did not think I could do it. I glanced at the Wall of Fame. There seemed to be about 80+ names, but I was certain there were many failures.
I requested a Blue Moon, lemons and one cocktail sauce. The oyster shuckers prepared 10 dozen. I nervously stared at two stacks of five dozen oysters.
Shit, what did I sign up for?
The contest began. It was 1:40pm. The oysters were large, room temperature, gulf coast oysters. Without thinking I swallowed the oysters plain. I was focused and got through the first 6 dozen in under 10 minutes. That was when it went sour.
Some of round 7’s oysters were cold. Very cold. They were difficult to chew and swallow. Moreover, they were gritty. I constantly dipped my hand in a water glass then wiped my lips to get rid of shell or inedible objects. I sipped my beer and sucked on lemon wedges to cleanse my palate. I was eating 2 at a time now.
The oyster shuckers started shucking the last 5 dozen.
Dozens 8, 9, and 10 completed with 30 minutes left… I was not feeling well. After deep breaths, I resumed 2 oysters at a time but a slower pace. 11 and 12 dozen down.
The oyster shuckers asked me several times if I wanted the bucket. I whimpered fuck no each time but I was nauseous and weak.
I stood up. I tilted my head back and breathed deeply. I was signaling for the bucket but my brother-in-law wouldn’t let me quit – 13 dozen down and less than 15 minutes left.
He counted to 30 seconds and nudged me to chew 2 at a time. After I got through round number 14, I told him to stop counting. With deep breaths, I slowly sipped on my beer in between oysters and swallowed.
It was 2:35pm. I completed the Acme Oyster House 15 dozen challenge with 5 minutes to spare.
My friends cheered and I gave high fives all around. I took photos with people in the restaurant; I enjoyed my new celebrity status.
I sipped my beer, thanked my oyster shuckers and went with the guys to Jester’s. After standing for 20 minutes, I decided to return to the house and lie down. I felt high and bloated.
It should have been a 10 block walk of victory, but it felt like shame. I hit the bed for an hour then visited the restroom for an uncomfortable seated experience. I was happy I completed this challenge but I do not plan on doing this again. This was not an easy challenge.
Now I can say that the Acme Oyster 15 Dozen Challenge is over. Anyone else dare to demonstrate gastrointestinal fortitude and join me on the wall? Or anyone care to share an eating competition experience?