The CHALLENGE, then, is eating four (4) of these monstrosities in under an hour. I went to this illustrious restaurant this weekend, with four males in search of sustenance and glory, a polaroid on the walls of the restaurant, and a free t-shirt. Three other females accompanied me, and made up the cheering and lecturing section of the table.
So, to describe the contenders. A, 21-year-old senior, works at Louie's Lunch therefore is around burgers quite a lot. B, 21-year-old junior who takes pride in his inability to eat vegetables, subsists entirely on pizza and french fries (no joke). C, 22-year-old non-Cornellian senior, here to visit and try out this infamous challenge. D, 20-year-old younger brother of non-Cornellian, is obviously a boy amongst the men.
The eight of us are seated at the table. The four girls get various other levels of fried goodness, but nothing to reach the level of the CHALLENGE. The four boys order their burgers. Once the burgers arrive, all four at the same time, the contenders are not allowed to leave the table. They must perfect a fine art of balancing the dry fillingness of the bun, the heaviness of the beef, the variety of the sauces - thousand island, mayo, ketchup, and hot sauce - and their water intake in order to trick their brains into ignoring the fullness of their stomachs. At 7.30pm exactly, the CHALLENGE began.
7.35pm. Contestant A is into his third burger already. B and C are enjoying themselves, and agreeing on the fact that their CHALLENGE does not seem that hard in person. D is laboring with his first burger.
7.39pm. Contestant A has, against all odds and aghast looks, finished the CHALLENGE. 4 giant burgers in 9 minutes. We ask the waitress, she admits it is impressive, but tells us that someone has in fact finished in 7 minutes. Nevertheless, A never broke a sweat, never struggled, never belched - he polished them off cleanly and effortlessly.
7.50pm. Contestant B has finished his CHALLENGE too. His trick was spicing up each burger, making it taste different and more interesting to his overloaded tastebuds. B also ordered fries, and at the end he was still able to each them with relish (figurative).
7.54pm. Contestant C finishes his CHALLENGE. He is possibly the smallest physically of our contestants, and therefore I had some doubts, but he was steady to the end. He also maintained a very positive mind frame, insisting to himself he would be able to finish. Quality effort, good ending.
8.00pm. We are halfway through the CHALLENGE. 3 out of the 4 contestants have impressively finished entirely. Contestant D, however, has encountered some difficulties. He has finished 2 out of his 4 burgers, but he is tiring fast. He was mentally unprepared, and decided to participate so as to be part of the male team. He even went so far as to dip his bun into water to soften it, making it easier to swallow. Slowly and none too steadily, D continues onward.
8.17pm. After several queasy moments and some close calls wherein I ducked behind contestant A, D decided to throw in the towel. Pale and belching, with the wreckage of one burger remaining, D decided his own mental and gastronomical stability was more important to him than the glory from the restaurant, respect from his friends and diners, and sense of worth from himself. The waitress came by with a knowing look, and took his plate away - she didn't want to risk anything. Luckily, my fellow female diner and I and not had any of this famous burger, so we decided to try some of it. Certainly good, possibly Ithaca's best.
8.20pm. Contestant A bravely took it upon himself to finish D's last burger. In effect, he had eaten almost 5 burgers in less than an hour. After that, he ordered dessert to share with C. I also ordered dessert to share with fellow female diner. Their special, the Kentucky Derby pie, was sinful. Unbaked chocolate chip cookie dough in a pie, topped with nuts, chocolate, and pie crust. Steaming and melty, with ice cream on the side.
Perfect end to the evening, except the precarious ride home for D, who was teetering on the edge of a burger coma. Unfortunate, but the CHALLENGE is not for the weak.