Seconds before eating, Molly Schuyler sprinkled salt on all three of the plates in front of her. To her left were a pile of napkins, a water pitcher and multiple cups of diet coke with no ice.
Once the timer started she began shoving the sausage links into her mouth with hopes of finishing Chubby’s Avalanche Challenge in under 20 minutes.
The eating challenge is available at Chubby’s Southern Style Barbecue in Emmitsburg. The avalanche burger is served on a plate as two one-foot-tall stacks and consists of eight half-pound burgers, eight Louisiana hot link sausages, two slices of American cheese on each burger, lettuce and tomato.
If challengers finish the avalanche burger, about eight pounds of food, in one hour they get a $100 gift card to Chubby’s, a T-shirt and their photo on the wall. If they fail, they have to pay $60, according to Tom Caulfield, owner of Chubby’s.
Schuyler, a competitive eater who travels around the country participating in eating contests, visited Chubby’s Saturday to complete the challenge...only she was doubling it.
That’s 16 burgers, 16 hot link sausages and 32 slices of cheese, along with the buns, lettuce and tomato. Two cooks from the kitchen carried out the four foot-high stacks on a large round plate. After taking photos for her social media accounts, she spread the food out on three plates.
Caulfield pledged to give her $500 if she finished the burgers in one hour.
“I don’t see how a human does that,” he said. “But I think she’ll do it. I’m willing to pay to see a car-accident kind-of-thing.”
When asked how many calories are in an avalanche burger, Caulfield said “somewhere around a billion.”
“What are calories?” he joked. “This is a barbecue. Calories hopefully come in here and buy barbecue. I don’t know what they are. I wouldn’t want to know.”
He came up with Chubby’s Avalanche Challenge a few years ago after watching Man V. Food—a popular food show on T.V.
“I thought, ‘almost nobody’s going to be able to do this,’” he said. “Some may be able to do it, but very few.”
Schuyler competed in the Avalanche Challenge before, eating eight pounds of burgers in six minutes.
“She did the first one so fast that I was at my computer playing Texas Hold’em and I turned around and looked and the food was gone,” Caulfield said.
The 39-year-old competitive eater recently moved to Harwood, Maryland and got into competitive eating after someone asked her to do an eating challenge about seven years ago.
“I did it to prove a point and to say I can do it,” she said. “It snowballed into challenges, which went into contests.”
She now competes in food contests for a living, which allows her to travel around the country and only work weekends.
She usually prepares for a food challenges but lately she’s been going in unprepared.
“I guess if I wanted to be prepared I would drink a lot of water and stretch beforehand,” she said. “But when you’re not around your area or you’re driving and you’re tired and lethargic, lately, unfortunately i’m unprepared.”
During her move to Maryland, she drove across the country from California and is still unpacking her new home, while juggling four kids.
With her small frame, it’s natural to wonder how she can eat so much.
“I don’t do this every day,“ she said. “Honestly, I have four kids and at my house. This is not permitted.”
She hoped to do the (double) challenge under 20 minutes.
“Something like a six pounds or eight pounds, that’s easy,” she said. “I don’t care about my time, I just want to finish this because I don’t want to pay for it.”
During the challenge, customers who came in for lunch were in awe as they sat and watched from their tables. Others took photos.
Thurmont resident, Jean Park, came to Chubby’s with her daughter-in-law, Sarah Simmons, to watch Schuyler complete the challenge.
Park knew Simmons was aware of Schuyler and wanted to surprise her by bringing her to watch.
“I wasn’t sure if she was going to be grossed out or she was going to enjoy it,” Park said of her daughter-in-law. “But she just informed me that she and my son watch these kinds of things on Youtube all the time.”
When Park saw the four stacks of burgers she didn’t think Schuyler could finish everything.
“I actually wasn’t sure [she could do it,]” Simmons said. “The amount of training and dedication it takes to get to that point is insane.”
The two women both agreed that seeing Schuyler eat in person exceeded their expectations. They didn’t lose their appetite over it either.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Park said. “I had to see it in person.”
After 29 minutes and one second, Schuyler finished off the 16 pounds of food with cheers from customers in the restaurant.
Five minutes after she finished she was asked how she felt.
“Fine,” she said. “I think we’re going to get something to eat.”
“More food?” she was asked.
“Yeah,” she said, nonchalantly. “Why not?”