Food & DrinkGuides & Events

Nine Charlotte-Area Food Challenges to Throw Down Your Gullet

The ultimate guide on where to chow down for prizes and more

huge burger tower
Fat Daddy Burger (Courtesy of Bad Daddy’s)

All the way back to 1867, when a reporter in Illinois documented Dr. Henry Harmes’ disturbing feat of ingesting five dozen raw eggs in one 30-minute sitting, Americans have been consumed with food challenges.

OK, that may be a little extreme, but there has for many years been a certain subset of overzealous restaurant patrons who take pride in completing food challenges, egged on only by the restaurants that supply them and maybe a few troublesome friends. Amateaur and competitive eaters alike seek the specialized glory earned by finishing several pounds of food within a predetermined time limit for prizes and/or bragging rights.

According to Benny Pennello’s, an amateaur eater is considered anyone who has not entered into a competitive eating contest nor won a cash prize for a food challenge and is not training for a competitive eating event, while a professional eater is a competitive eater (sponsored or non-sponsored), an aspiring competitive eater or anyone who has won a food challenge with a cash prize.

Most challenges follow the same general rules: no bathroom breaks, no vomiting on the premises during or after the competition, no sharing the food with another person and no leaving the table area.

With that in mind, we have compiled a list of Charlotte-area food challenges ranked from the quickest, meaning patrons are given the least amount of time to finish, to the longest.

JackBeagles “Wicked Challenge”

3213 N. Davidson St.; 1404 W. Morehead St.; 125 S Main St., Mt Holly

Time Limit: 15 minutes

Criteria: Contestants must finish 1 pound of mac & cheese, 1 pound of waffle fries, 1 pound of pulled pork, and 1 pound of coleslaw all topped with JackBeagles’ Wicked hot sauce.

Prize: Winners get the meal free, a T-shirt and a spot on the Wall of Fame.

large pizza from benny's
Benny’s Pizza (Courtesy of Benny’s)

Benny’s “The Benny’s Challenge”

Time Limit: 28 minutes

Benny Pennello’s, 2909 N. Davidson St., Suite 100; Benny Ferrovia’s, 340 W. Tremont Ave., Suite 120

Criteria: Contestants must sign up for the challenge and pay a $35 entry fee before competing. There are no dietary substitutions. Contestants must eat an entire 28-inch pizza within the time limit. If you’ve never been to Benny’s before, you may want to take a gander at what a 28-inch pizza actually looks like before you make any big commitments; these things barely fit in most cars.

Prize: Competitive eaters are eligible to win $100. Amateur eaters are eligible to win $280. Winners will also receive a “Benny’s Challenge” T-shirt, have their photo posted on Benny’s social media pages and have bragging rights.

Note: Benny Pennello’s told Queen City Nerve that between its two Charlotte restaurants (Benny Pennello’s in NoDa and Benny Ferrovia’s in South End) only four or five people have successfully completed the Benny’s Challenge. The record to beat is 11.5 slices in 10 minutes, set at Benny’s 2022 Invitational Pizza Eating Competition in Virginia.

Jukebox Pub Deli Grill’s “Fat Biatch”

5801 W. Highway 74, Indian Trail

Time Limit: 30 minutes

Criteria: Contestants must eat three Fat Biatch sandwiches within the time limit. The Fat Biatch has nacho cheese, beer-battered onion rings, crinkle-cut fries, a mix of bell-peppers and jalapenos, chicken strips and shaved-steak on a bread bun.

Prize: Winners receive a $50 gift certificate to put toward the $40 meal.

burger food challenge
The Hwy 55 Burger (Courtesy of Hwy 55)

Hwy 55’s “Hwy 55 Burger Challenge”

4859 Old York Road, #104, Rock Hill, SC; 683 SC-9 Bypass, Lancaster, SC

Time Limit: 30 minutes

Criteria: Contestants must finish around three and a half pounds of meat on a burger bun with at least four toppings, a side of fries and a 24 oz. soft drink.

Prize: Winners get the $34.99 meal on the house.

Morgan’s Dairy Bar’s “Cow Pile” Ice Cream Sundae Challenge

194 E. Dallas Road, Stanley (Gaston County)

Time Limit: 30 minutes

Criteria: Contestants must finish 25 scoops of ice cream with a maximum of eight flavors, which equals right around 5 pounds of ice cream. Contestants must also choose five different toppings.

Prize: Winners get the $49.99 meal for free.

Location: 194 E. Dallas Road, Stanley (Gaston County)

large burrito portions
Two Monster Burritos (Courtesy of Go Burrito)

Go Burrito’s “Monster Burrito Longboard Challenge”

115 W Fisher St., Salisbury (Rowan County)

Time Limit: 30 minutes

Criteria: Contestants must schedule this challenge 24 hours in advance. Contestants must finish five burrito tortillas filled with two scoops of four different meats (steak, chicken, shredded beef, marinated pork) on top of two scoops each of white rice, brown rice, pinto beans and black beans. The burrito is filled with lettuce, pico de gallo, a spicy habanero salsa, sour cream and topped with queso cheese sauce and red enchilada sauce, all weighing in at around 6 pounds.

Prize: Winners get the $30 meal free, a T-shirt and a spot on the Wall of Fame. Losers get a spot on the Wall of Shame. The challenge is offered at most Go Burrito locations.

Read more: A Guide to Charlotte’s Best Markets and Delis

Cinnaholic’s “Monster Stack Vegan Cinnamon Roll”

6461 Old Monroe Road, Suite F, Indian Trail; 915 South Point Road, Suite F, Belmont; 3050 Derita Road, Suite 20, Concord

Time Limit: 1 hour

Criteria: Contestants must eat 6 pounds of vegan cinnamon rolls topped with six big scoops and two smaller scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Prize: Winners get the $95 meal free, a t-shirt and a spot on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame.

huge burger and meal
Mac’s Fatboy (Courtesy of Mac’s Speedshop)

Mac’s Speed Shop’s “Fatboy Challenge”

2414 Sandy Porter Road; 2511 South Blvd.; Concord Mills, 8021 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord; 142 E John St., Matthews

Time Limit: 1 hour

Criteria: Contestants must finish a 5-pound sandwich of red slaw, fried pickles, pulled pork, beef brisket, burger patties, applewood-smoked bacon, pimento cheese, queso blanco and 3 ounces of their spicy Mac’s Burnout Sauce all inside a 1-pound sourdough bun and served with a half-pound side of macaroni and cheese.

Prize: A winning contestants’ $77 meal is free and they receive a shirt and a place in the restaurant’s Hall of Fame.

Note: Popular UK YouTuber BeardMeatsFood, also ranked as the 15th best competitive eater in the world, completed the challenge at a Mac’s in Greensboro, finishing in just over 22 minutes. Don’t let his impressive time fool you, though; the challenge has also been failed 76 times, with each loser commemorated on the Wall of Shame. This challenge is offered at all Mac’s Speed Shop locations.

Bad Daddy’s “Fat Daddy Burger Challenge”

Nearest participating location: 2211 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia

Time Limit: 1 hour

Criteria: Contestants must eat 7 pounds worth of burgers, comprising five stacked 10-ounce burger patties layered with nine different types of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, three types of bacon (eight jalapeno, eight Applewood smoked, eight breaded and fried) and topped with a 3-ounce slider. The burger also comes with seven sides including regular fries, sweet potato fries, fried pickles, onion rings, tater tots, fried deviled eggs and Bad Daddy’s fried homemade chips.

Prize: Winners receive the $75 meal free, a T-shirt and a photo on the Wall of Fame.

Note: Randy Santel, another popular YouTuber and competitive eater, filmed his successful attempt at the challenge, finishing just over 58 minutes. Only select Bad Daddy’s locations participate in this challenge.

Whether you think the price of devouring a considerable amount of food is worth a T-shirt and a free meal or not, these challenges are in and around Charlotte, waiting to be conquered. Good luck and happy eating.

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