Maybe you have something to prove, or maybe you just like to eat. Whatever the case, you won't have a hard time finding food challenges in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Here are just a few ways to punish your stomach and send your cholesterol soaring as you pursue your gluttonous glory (and free T-shirts).
When Pigs Fly
The challenge: Ready for it? It's 1 pound of bacon, 1 pound of ham, 1 pound of pulled pork, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato, and two sides: a pound of mac 'n' cheese and a quarter-pound of cole slaw. The whole thing weighs about 5 ½ pounds, and you have 45 minutes to eat it.
If you succeed: You get a T-shirt, your picture on the wall of fame and - best of all - you don't pay a dime.
When you fail: You lose face and $24.95. It's the wall of shame for you, buddy.
Worth noting: This challenge is new, so pounce on it early.
Joe's giant burger
The challenge: A gut-busting 3-pound burger with a half-dozen fried eggs, 12 strips of bacon, 12 slices of cheese and a whole salad worth of tomatoes, lettuce and onions. And you've got to pack down a side of fries. The whole thing comes in at about 7 pounds and looks like a cartoon. You've got 30 minutes to take it down.
If you succeed: You get a free meal and a Joe's T-shirt. No one has beaten this challenge yet.
When you fail: You pay $19.95 and should get your cholesterol checked.
Worth noting: It's probably good to call ahead.
The Triple Threat
The challenge: Suck down a triple cheeseburger, a small order of french fries and a 20-ounce milkshake. You pay regardless, and the whole thing will run you about $15. About 50 or 60 people have won this 15-minute challenge. Competitive eater Joe LaRue did it in 1 minute, 15 seconds.
If you succeed: You go on the wall of fame.
When you fail: You go on the wall of shame - or slink away and decline to give your name.
Worth noting: Remember the finger test - that's where you slide your pointer between two slices and make sure the burger's not so hot it will scald you.
Where: Bard's Burgers, 3620 Decoursey Ave., Covington; 859-261-9115
The challenge: The Bardzilla is 10 beef patties, 1 pound of cheese, 2 pounds of fries and one big bun. This monster weighs in at 6 1/3 pounds and you get an hour to eat it. Plus a drink. It's all $20.
If you succeed: You get a T-shirt and a tummy ache.
When you fail: You get a tummy ache.
Worth noting: Be on the lookout for the Hogzilla, an upcoming challenge that involves 10 deep-fried hot dogs.
The Uber Terminator
The challenge: The Uber Terminator is a "super hot" mettwurst that weighs 2 pounds and stretches out an incredible 30 inches. But that's not all. You've got to take down a ½ pound of sauerkraut, a ½ pound of green peppers and onions and a 1 pound bun. You have an hour. Only four people have beaten this challenge.
If you succeed: You get a victor's T-shirt, and Mecklenburg pays the check.
When you fail: You get a T-shirt that says you've been terminated. And you've gotta pay $25.
Worth noting: Don't underestimate this sausage. It's super hot.
Ramundo's 26-inch pizza
The challenge: Two of you take on a 26-inch pie with extra cheese and two toppings of your choice. You have 10 minutes to polish it off.
If you succeed: Your pizza is free. Only two or three pairs have succeeded.
When you fail: You fork over $35.
Worth noting: Call ahead if you don't want to sit and wait for a 26-inch pizza to cook.
Raniero's 24-inch pizza
Where: Raniero's, 28 Martha Layne Collins Blvd., Cold Spring; 859-442-7437
The challenge: A 24-inch cheese pie, one 20-ounce cup of water and 10 minutes. This is a two-person challenge, and if you want to go for the T-shirt and the glory, you must add a topping and finish it in less than 7 minutes or the current record. About 30 people have tried it, and eight have succeeded. You pay $21.95 plus $2.55 for each topping regardless of the outcome.
If you succeed: You can win a T-shirt, but note the challenge modifications above.
When you fail: You just fail. Sad.
Worth noting: Call ahead and don't try to do the challenge on a busy Friday or Saturday night. Unless you really want to annoy the people making your pizza.
The Monster Sub
The challenge: You've got to tackle a foot-long double-decker sandwich with salami, ham, pepperoni, turkey, bologna, capicola, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano. Oh, and four pickle spears, a pound of french fries and a large drink without ice. We're talking 7 ¼ pounds of food, and you have to swallow it in an hour. Only one person has done it.
If you succeed: You'll get a T-shirt and a free sub if you're ever able to eat again.
When you fail: You get the loser T-shirt.
Worth noting: The cost is $20 plus tax, and you pay regardless of the outcome. Be kind to the restaurant and call ahead for this challenge, and try to avoid lunch hour.
The challenge: Eat six wings smothered in the restaurant's atomic sauce. Says the menu: "One bite will set your pores a steamin', ears a hummin' and temples a throbbin' - served with jalapeños to cool your palate." They even make you sign a waiver.
If you succeed: Get your name on the wall and a rough night ahead of you.
When you fail: You get a rough night ahead of you and your name nowhere.
Worth noting: This challenge is relatively cheap -$6.99 - and a lot of people win it. Might be a good place to start your food challenge career. It's also available at the Milford location, 590 Chamber Drive.
The $30 spaghetti and meatballs
The challenge: Eat carefully - you have 2 pounds of spaghetti, 1 pound of meatballs and 1 pound of marinara and garlic knots.
If you succeed: Finish it and it's free - plus you get a T-shirt and a spot on the wall of fame.
When you fail: You'll have to hand over that hard-earned $30.
Worth noting: Here's what it says on the menu: "No excusing yourself from the table...and no returns...if you know what we mean." Gross.
Biscuits and gravy
Where: Howie's Diner, 1049 Eads Parkway East, Lawrenceburg; 812-537-2050
The challenge: Eat a big honkin' biscuit and a vat of spicy gravy. The whole thing weighs 5 pounds, and you have an hour to get it down. Six people have passed this test so far.
If you succeed: You'll get a free T-shirt, your picture on the wall and you won't owe anyone a dime.
When you fail: You've got to pay the restaurant $20.
Worth noting: Don't be fooled - this is a disturbing amount of gravy.
Willie's Challenger Menu
The challenge: You can choose from two - the Triple By Pass Burger or the Hit King Challenge. The burger is loaded with three 1-pound patties, 1 pound of bacon, ½ pound of cheese and grilled-cheese sandwiches for buns. You also need to eat a mess of fries. The whole thing weighs about 5 pounds, and you have an hour to demolish it. The Hit King is over in 14 minutes. It forces you to choke down 12 wings that are so hot that one contestant was found laid out under a urinal after his attempt.
If you succeed: You get a T-shirt, your name on Willie's Wall of Fame, and your challenge is free.
When you fail: You pay $18.95 for the burger or $8.95 for the wings and probably end up passed out under a urinal.
Worth noting: You can attempt this at multiple Willie's locations. See the website for addresses.
Where: Izzy's, multiple locations
The challenge: In this deal in honor of Izzy's 110th anniversary, you pay $19.99 to eat the 110 Reuben, an intimidating creation that includes a potato pancake, 1 pound of Izzy's Famous Corned Beef, a heap of sauerkraut, dressing and a smothering of Swiss cheese piled into a loaf of rye bread, and pickles on the side. Only the person taking the challenge may eat anything off the plate, and you must eat everything on your plate. If anyone else eats something on your plate, you will be charged the full non-challenge price: $29.99.
If you succeed: Complete the challenge in 30 minutes or less and Izzy's will refund your money. Plus, you get a t-shirt and a photo on Izzy's wall of fame.
Worth noting: Once Izzy's 110th anniversary is over, so is this deal.
» Beat a challenge? Know of one? Tell us about it in the comments!