Recession Bargain or Fool's Challenge?

"They think they are hungry," Jones said. "Well, they are hungry but it's like putting 5 pounds in a 3-pound sack."

"It's something that's talked about up and down the trail," Jones said, adding that for most, it's just a "photo op."

The oversized pancakes await the next hungry customer.

A Big Dessert

That might be a great way to start your day, but to end it consider the Dare to be Great Sundae served at The Parlour in Jackson, Mich.

It's 21 scoops of ice cream plus chocolate syrup, pineapples, strawberries, marshmallows, chopped nuts and whipped cream and, of course, cherries.

Wow, that's a lot of dessert.

"And our scoops are really big, they're like baseball sized," said general manager Elaine Strader.

The Dare to be Great Sundae at The Parlour in Jackson, Mich.

Eat it by yourself in an hour and it's free. Only one or two people a year succeed. The rest have to pay $29.99. Winners and losers get their names on a board. There are a lot more names under the attempt column than the success column.

"It's a very an elite group," Strader said. "I've personally never seen anybody try it twice."

Attempting the sundae challenge is about pride more than anything else. Strader said that most of the challengers tend to be teenage males.

Recessions Bring Promotions

The promotion or giveaway is nothing new. Companies have always tried to lure customers with something different. When gas prices were high, hotels and casinos were offering patrons free gas cards.

Today's economic downturn is bringing back many of those cash giveaways. For instance, Doritos is asking Americans to create their own Super Bowl ads. Five finalists will win $25,000 each. The top prize is $1 million.

When Clyde Volte was hired 15 years ago to help J&R's Steak House brand itself, he thought up the 76-oz. Steak Challenge. Basically, he found the largest steak challenge in the country and decided to top it at the New York restaurant.

"The primary thing was to have us different than somebody else," he said. "Everybody has to have a gimmick."

Two patrons after finishing a challenge at Schiappa's Pizza in Illinois.

Vlote said that few people are looking to save money by trying the challenge.

"It's more of a pride of this point," he said. "I don't think anybody came in seeking a free meal. That might be in the back of their head but the ego is mainly the thing. They usually come in with two or three friends. Very few people come in by themselves."

It's All About Fun

Arnie Chapman knows a thing or two about eating. He heads the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, which works with different venues to host competitions.

The key for restaurants is that they usually get a lot of publicity, especially from the local media.

Some challenges are doable, others are in Chapman's mind nothing more than "suckers bets, that nobody's ever going to do."

The key, he said, is that the owners with the best events are the type of people with a great sense of humor.

"The one thing I've tried to do with competitive eating is never take the silliness out of it," Chapman said. "It's all about going back to the best time in my life, which was sixth grade."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6353125.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...