Their hands shook, their faces were bright red, covered in sauce and shining with sweat.But still they persevered.
The first annual Spartan Insanely Hot Wing Battle kicked off on March 24 with an intense crowd surrounding Huden Arena. Five brave contestants sat at a table in the center competing in a five-round battle of spice.
An idea borrowed from UVM by Chef Adam Lewis and Andrea McCauley of Huden, the Battle consisted of five contestants and five rounds of five wings. Each contestant had five minutes to eat all of his or her wings, and then a minute to rest. Referee Tim Sparks, dressed in a referee’s jersey, toga and crown of ivy, approved each wing that was finished.
Before the Battle began, Ryan “The Heat Master” Cummings asked McCauley and Lewis what would happen in the case of a tie. McCauley said they had a tiebreaker if that were to happen, but Lewis just chuckled wryly and said, “There won’t be a tie.”
The fifth official contestant, Robert Burke, didn’t show up, so three volunteers were chosen from the audience to take his place. Cheers from the audience determined that Kate Bucci, the token girl, would be the fifth and final contestant.
Bucci was asked about any possible allergies and had to sign a waiver form that the other contenders had already filled out. On it she had to include emergency contact information, indicating the seriousness of the Battle.
Round one began and ended without too many problems. According to the Scoville Scale, this round was about the equivalent of a jalapeño pepper, or 2,500 to 8,000 units of heat. Each round progressively became hotter and hotter, with Round five consisting of a whopping 8.6 to 9.1 million units of heat.
Before Round three, two firemen in complete turnout gear showed up with super soakers.
“The Castleton Fire Department will hose down the inferno in your mouth,” announcer Jack Healey said.
Bucci was the first to waive the white flag of surrender during Round three.
“I’m fine, I’m just full, I ate dinner beforehand,” Bucci said.
After each surrender, the competitors received a pint of milk to cool down his or her mouth.
While Cummings still looked completely unaffected, the other contestants were starting to struggle. Ben “Leather Tongue” Murphy began to slow, claiming his hands were numb. Eventually Murphy too surrendered, shortly followed by Mark “Too Hot For Words” Middleton, whose face had been steadily turning a brighter shade of scarlet with each bite he took.
Martin “I Live For Hot” Jutres, who was wearing bunker gear, was now Cummings’ only competition. Cummings still showed no signs of eating anything hotter than pepper spray, though he did begin to lose steam. Jutres’ face was covered in hot sauce and sweat.
“What’s it taste like?” Sparks asked Jutres.
“Shit.” Jutres replied through a mouthful of chicken.
Eventually Cummings sat back and made a deal with Jutres, who was obviously struggling, to call it quits and agree to win together.
Although they both preferred a tie, due to a technicality (most likely because he ate more in the final round), Cummings was named the official winner.
Prizes included a snowboard, which Cummings kept, and a skateboard he agreed Jutres could have. Cummings also won a jalapeño piñata and crown.
After the competition most of the competitors wandered around Huden trying to cool down their mouths and faces.
“It’s my face more than my mouth. It’s like pepper spray in your mouth.” Jutres said, while rubbing a handful of ice on his face.
“The last one, that was it . it tasted like asshole,” Cummings said.
He said he eats spicy foods all the time and could have kept going had the wings actually tasted good.
“Honestly, I feel like I just blew a demon,” Murphy said.