The Most Colossal Food Challenges On Man V Food

Chances are, your social media feeds include some form of "mukbang" (a South Korean word that loosely means "eating show"). This widely popular video trend involves people eating huge amounts of delicious-looking food in front of the camera. What is it about mukbang that's so addictive to watch? Sure, we love to see good food consumed, along with the (sometimes gross) sounds of slurping and chewing. But let's be honest — a small part of us enjoys watching people go through the painful act of eating way more than they should.

But even before mukbang was trending around the world, the popular Food Network show "Man v. Food" allowed us to experience all that and more. Host Adam Richman traveled around the United States for four seasons (he was later succeeded by Casey Webb in the show's revival in 2017) and took on the biggest food challenges restaurants had to offer. Endless chili dogs, massive steaks, burritos the size of a small child — it didn't matter for these brave hosts. Although the man in this case didn't always win the battle, he always put up a good fight. We've compiled some of the most colossal meals that Richman and Webb welcomed during their stints on the show. Grab a snack, undo your belt a few notches, and read on to live vicariously through these champions of eating. 

The 72-ounce steak at The Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas

"Everything is bigger in Texas." That's not just a witty slogan. In the very first episode of "Man v. Food" that aired in 2008, Adam Richman took on the 72-ounce steak challenge at The Big Texan in Amarillo. When Richman did the challenge, about 48,000 people had attempted it, and 40,000 had failed. Today, more than 90,000 contestants have ordered the giant steak dinner, with only around 10,000 able to get through to the last bite. The challenge originated back in 1962 when the owner put together a contest after regularly seeing Texas cowboys ordering the biggest steaks available and competing with each other to see who could eat the most while out-of-towners watched. 

The tradition lives on today. Anyone can order the steak challenge during the restaurant's business hours. Along with the steak, contestants must eat a shrimp cocktail, a baked potato, a salad, and a roll with butter within one hour. Richman needn't have worried about the time — he finished the meal in less than 30 minutes. If you're an avid fan of the show, you know Richman doesn't like all of the food challenges, but this one he seemed to genuinely enjoy. "So far as other challenges, this was by far one of the most delicious," he says after finishing the giant steak on the show.  

The 15-Dozen Club at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans

Even if you enjoy eating oysters, slurping down platter after platter of them is enough to make most anyone squirm. In the 10th episode of the first season of "Man v. Food," host Adam Richman heads to New Orleans' Acme Oyster House to join the 15-dozen club. Members of the prestigious group must clear 180 oysters within an hour. For context, five out of every six competitors fail at this shellfish-based challenge, which is offered at all six of the restaurant's locations in the South. Acme Oyster House might be known for some of the freshest oysters around, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Richman employed several strategies, like adding plenty of hot sauce and horseradish and stacking multiple oysters on his fork at one time. At the beginning, he was really enjoying himself. "The oysters are fresh, clean, creamy, delish," he told the camera in a clip of the episode. But by the end, he was obviously struggling with the mollusks' slippery texture. Fortunately, he persisted and became the 29th member of the Acme Hall of Fame. 

In a 2015 interview with The Mirror, Richman was asked if a challenge ever ruined his relationship with a particular food. His response: "Yes. After the oyster challenge in New Orleans, which was over half a decade ago, I think I may have had less than a dozen since. It just turned me off."

The Chili Dog Challenge at Roast Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina

Sure, we all know about Joey Chestnut and the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Still, those contestants don't compare to what Adam Richman does when he destroys 17 hot dogs loaded with homemade chili and mustard in less than 30 minutes at The Roast Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina. This neighborhood restaurant prides itself on its 100-plus-year-old chili recipe that was brought to the U.S. by Greek immigrants and put on the menu when the business opened in 1940.

At this chili dog joint, the original record that began the challenge was 13 chili dogs. Over the years, the record grew to 16 — and Richman came to beat it. He was served 17 crispy hot dogs along with a full pint of chili. At first, Richman cleared the dogs in two or three bites but later admitted the buns were difficult as they expanded in his gut. But with a crowd of North Carolinians cheering behind him, Richman forced down the 17th dog to break the record and temporarily rename the contest "The Man v. Food Roast Grill Challenge." Richman's record lasted only a few months, though, as several challengers have since beat that food feat.

Giant pancakes at M.A.C. 24-7 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Adam Richman visits Honolulu, Hawaii, for a very heavy, breakfast-related food competition: The Mac Daddy Challenge. It involves three pounds of pancake mix combined with water (each of the three pancakes is 14 inches in diameter) and topped with another pound of toppings. When Richman shows up, only four people have ever finished the 5-pound challenge (as of this writing, the restaurant's Hall of Fame lists 120 names,including competitive eater Joey Chestnut).

To make the famous pancakes, the chef needed a comically large mixer, a pizza peel for flipping, and a pizza cutter for slicing through the finished hotcakes. The choice of toppings ranged from chocolate and pecan to macadamia and pineapple. For his pancakes, Richman went with blueberries and vanilla butter.

As Richman explained at the beginning of the episode, taking down such a starchy challenge was no easy feat since the food typically continues to expand in the stomach. "The absolute doughiest challenge I've ever faced," Richman narrated in the episode. Before he dug in, the chef outlined the rules: 90 minutes to finish the challenge, he couldn't leave his chair, and not even a single blueberry could be left on the plate. Time ran out before Richman could defeat this starch-filled foe. The pancakes won this round.

The Big Badass Burrito Challenge at the NASCAR Café in Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas — which is probably what Adam Richman was thinking after taking on the B3: The Big Badass Burrito Challenge. What made this burrito so badass, you ask? It weighed 6 pounds and measured 2 feet long. To make this monster, four 16-inch tortillas were packed full of lettuce, rice, beans, cheese, jalapeños, braised beef, and nacho cheese sauce. But that wasn't all — it was topped with more sauce and cheese, tomatoes, black olives, scallions, and big scoops of sour cream and guacamole. 

Richman had hoped to become the third person to ever consume all 6 pounds of burrito goodness. Since it was in Vegas, people could actually wager on the bout between man and food. He had 90 minutes to devour the burrito, but unfortunately, he was unable to finish the final pound. He officially became a "certified weenie" at the NASCAR Café, which was torn down in 2013 to make way for new development. 

The Giant Banh-mi Challenge at Lu's Sandwiches in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Casey Webb, the second host of "Man v. Food," traveled to Minneapolis in 2018 to take on an absolutely monstrous, 2.5-foot-long Vietnamese banh-mi sandwich at Lu's Sandwiches. The behemoth weighed nearly 4 pounds and contained beautifully marinated roast pork, green onions, pickled carrots and radish, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeños, all on top of a huge French roll layered with paté and mayonnaise. 

With only half an hour to finish the challenge, Webb was faced with a steep task. As he predicted, it wasn't the quantity of the food, but the excessive chewing that would be his downfall. "At this point, even if my stomach can handle it, my jaw may give out," Webb narrated as he powered on with the massive sandwich. In the end, taking down the giant banh-mi was too much. At the 30-minute mark, he still had about a quarter of the sandwich left. 

Webb's photo graces The Wall of Fame on the restaurant's website even though he didn't slay the sandwich challenge. It is still available for those brave enough to try. Will you be next? 

The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger at Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, Michigan

Adam Richman has demolished tons of different burgers during his time on "Man v. Food," but none quite like the Absolutely Ridiculous Burger at Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar. Located just outside Detroit, Michigan, this restaurant makes a burger that is ... well, absolutely ridiculous. Weighing in at 190 pounds, the burger is impossible for any one man to eat (even Richman), so he invites a team of true Detroiters, from local police officers to roller derby teammates to wrestlers to a Kiss cover band. Together, they have two hours to eat the monstrous burger. 

The burger started with 210 pounds of ground beef baked in a special oven. They put on 10 pounds of assorted cheeses, 15 pounds of vegetables, and 4 pounds of crispy bacon. The top bun alone weighed 20 pounds. Chunks of the burger were distributed to the 40-person team. The group cleared more than 160 pounds of food, but it wasn't enough. 

For hungry diners looking for a solo challenge, Mallie's offers a 10-pound Monster Burger that's free if you can finish it in under 60 minutes. The restaurant's menu these days also sports a 1,800-pound behemoth that earned the restaurant a Guinness World Record as the largest commercially available burger. And it can be yours for just $10,000.

The Kodiak Arrest at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse in Anchorage, Alaska

In Anchorage, Alaska, Richman took on a challenge with a fitting name: The Kodiak Arrest. When Richman showed up, not a single person had finished all the food in the allotted 90 minutes. The crazy platter consisted of 6 pounds of food that combined the best and freshest that the state had to offer. The first course was the Alaskan salmon cakes, made of freshly baked salmon, bread crumbs, veggies, and cheese sculpted into seven 2-ounce patties. Next came 3 pounds of Alaskan king crab, a footlong reindeer sausage, 6 ounces of sautéed vegetables, 6 ounces of mashed potatoes, and a mixed berry crisp with ice cream for dessert. 

The first challenge? It took 15 minutes just to deshell the crab. According to Richman, the shellfish put him in a euphoric state. "It's so sweet and so delicious ... I haven't had anything like it ever," he said in the episode. Richman ended up conquering the Alaskan food challenge with more than 40 minutes to spare. Fun fact? In a Reddit AMA, Richman said The Kodiak Arrest challenge was his favorite during his "Man v. Food" career. 

The Kodiak Arrest has gotten more difficult since Richman completed it in 2009. Today's challenge now consists of 4 pounds of Alaskan crab, a 14-inch sausage plus all the other menu items, and a 60-minute time limit. But that hasn't stopped diners, who are now racking up the wins.

The Goliath Challenge at Kirby's Kupcakes in Rogers, Arkansas

Host Casey Webb traveled to the Ozarks to take on Goliath, otherwise known as a massive cupcake. Kirby's Kupcakes, which has closed since this challenge was filmed, baked up a dessert that was equal to 22 cupcakes. It consisted of all of the bakery basics: flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, eggs, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. After the batter was blended together, nearly two dozen scoops were added to an extra-large cupcake mold. Webb opted for chocolate and peanut butter flavored icing.

He went at the incredibly sweet challenge by making sure every bite of cupcake he got had some icing on it, so he wouldn't get stuck just eating way-too-sweet frosting toward the end of his 30 minutes. "Eating the Goliath was like getting a direct injection of sugar into my veins," Webb narrated. He was definitely hurting from the massive amount of the cake, but he pushed through. In the battle between David and Goliath, Webb came out on top. 

The Kitchen Sink at the San Francisco Creamery Co. in San Francisco, California

"Everything but the kitchen sink" — that's exactly what Adam Richman finds in this dessert from the San Francisco Creamery Co. The Kitchen Sink is a two-gallon sundae with eight scoops of ice cream (any flavor), eight servings of whipped cream, and eight toppings. Construction of this dairy tower starts with a whole banana, followed by three scoops of orange sherbet, followed by more bananas, and plenty of rainbow sprinkles. Next comes three scoops of good ol' vanilla, another banana, and chocolate sprinkles. The final scoops Richman chooses are cake mix and Swiss milk chocolate flavored and topped off with hot fudge, whipped cream, almonds, and more chocolate sprinkles. 

Armed with a massive spoon, Richman dug in. Although it was super enjoyable at first, he soon hit a sugar-filled wall. He came up with a genius tactic: eat salty french fries to balance his palate. The sundae melted down to a soupy broth, but Richman powered through, saying after it was over that it was one of harder challenges. "Any time it's that much dairy, I find it to be a very difficult kind of challenge because there's not a lot for your stomach to hold on to," he said in the episode

As of September 1, 2023, The Kitchen Sink record to beat this year is 20 minutes, according to the San Francisco Creamery Co., though the all-time speed record clocks in at 6 minutes, 41 seconds.

5-pound Ultimate Cheesesteak at Tony Luke's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Adam Richman heads to South Philly to try one of the most popular cheesesteaks around and become the first to make it onto Tony Luke's cheesesteak Hall of Fame. Owner Tony Luke joins Richman in the inaugural challenge. So what does this Ultimate Cheesesteak Challenge include? It starts out with nearly 3 pounds of aged ribeye cooked on a flat top then smothered with more than a pound of cheese. Richman switches out the traditional cheese whiz for the less dense American cheese. Next, the mountains of meat are stacked on top of a 20-inch roll, then topped off with another half pound of onions. In all, the sandwich weighs over 5 pounds of Philly goodness.

Richman and Luke get an hour to finish the massive sandwiches. "Cheesesteak is one of my all-time favorite foods, and I don't see how anything can stop me from finishing this awesome sandwich," he said in the episode. But then the cheese "turns it into glue," making it hard to swallow. Richman pushes through like a champ, though, and goes down in cheesesteak history as first member of Tony Luke's Hall of Fame.

The restaurant is still in South Philly, but it now operates as Tony and Nick's Steaks after some legal issues and a family split. A separate chain of Tony Luke's restaurants has more than a dozen locations. To our disappointment, neither business lists the cheesesteak challenge on their online menus.  

The Melt Challenge at Melt Bar & Grilled in Lakewood, Ohio

Grilled cheese is usually a super comforting and nostalgic meal that makes you feel like you're a kid again — but not for Adam Richman. He heads to Melt Bar & Grilled just outside of Cleveland in Lakewood, Ohio, to see how much dairy his body can withstand with the Melt Challenge. In this test of will, he has to eat a massive grilled cheese sandwich along with piles of hand-cut french fries, coleslaw, and pickles. The sandwich itself is loaded with American cheese, smoked gouda, extra sharp cheddar, cheddar jack, bleu cheese, creamy goat cheese, crumbly feta, Provolone, Swiss, pepper jack, Muenster, and Havarti. All that is piled onto three thick slices of artisan bread that's smeared with cream cheese. In all, it's 5 pounds of gooey dairy, straight into Richman's stomach.

From the first bite, he was smacked with a huge blast of cheesy flavor (as expected), but he didn't slow down. Although he wasn't given a time limit, Richman knew it was game over if the cheese cooled and hardened. Somehow, he eventually demolished every bit, proclaiming afterward, "It truly is not easy being cheesy."

The Melt Challenge is still available for order, but be forewarned. According to the website, it has a 91% failure rate.

The Iron Man Omelet Challenge at Broken Yolk Café in San Diego, California

People usually go to San Diego to relax, chill by the beach, and possibly do a little surfing. Adam Richman, on the other hand, goes to take on a grueling breakfast challenge. The Broken Yolk Café serves up more than 30 different types of omelets, but Richman has his eye on the six-pound, 12-egg, chili-topped Iron Man. The huge omelet is stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and half a pound of American cheese and topped with beefy chili and more cheese. A pound and a half of home fries as well as two big ol' biscuits sit beside the egg monstrosity.

Richman's strategy was to combine everything into one, so he spent the first few minutes packing the potatoes and biscuits into the omelet. Within 12 minutes, he had already destroyed the first half. After hitting the dreaded wall, he surprisingly ordered a side of guacamole to help him get through the rest. Game over! He conquered Broken Yolk Café's Iron Man Omelet Challenge and earned a spot on the Wall of Fame.

With more than three dozen locations in six states, the Broken Yolk Café makes this challenge available to plenty of diners. Dig in!