The rules are simple. Eat the food that’s set in front of you, don’t drink anything and don’t wipe your hands. That’s it. It’s that easy.Except the food is hot. Really hot.
So hot that Marcus Hass’ fingers went numb. Then tingled.
“I wasn’t expecting them to be so hot they burn my skin,” Hass said shaking his head.
Hass was referring to the hot wings he ate to the bone while competing in the Spartan Insanely Hot Wing Battle before spring break.
Five students battled in Huden Dining Hall to earn a “Degree in heat” and become the ‘The King of Wings.” The winner also received a custom-fitted Treck 820 Mountain Bike donated by Pepsi.
The dining hall staff offered the hot wing-eating contest for the second year to break up the dullness of cafeteria dining.
“Kids get bored. Especially when it comes to food,” said Michael Williams the director of Campus Dining. “We try to do monotony-breakers, like the waffle iron and this event.”
It was certainly no ordinary day at Huden. A large crowd of students congregated to watch the contest and win free prizes like free food and T-shirts with the contest’s logo and a Spartan warrior entrenched in flames on them.
Jenni Mark, a freshman, was there for the fun and to see how hot was hot.
“I’m hoping it’s so hot I see someone cry,” Mark said.
No one bawled, but there were tears.
Julie Carryer, the only female contestant, had tears in her eyes when she gave up with just seconds to go in the second round.
“It was so hot!” Carryer said between gulps of milk donated by Thomas Dairy. “I feel like a dragon.”
She exhaled a burst of steamy breath to illustrate.
“They were pretty freakin’ hot,” said Brain Garvey, another contestant who dropped as the third round kicked off. “I could smell it. And once I smelt it, my ambition just went away.”
Garvey didn’t even need to try the round three wings, just smell them, to know he couldn’t take the heat. President David Wolk attended the event and said proximity was all it took to get a sense of how hot the wings were.
“When they were bringing the wings out by me my eyes watered and I said ‘If I’m just close to the wings and my eyes are watering how are they ever going to do that!” Wolk said.
The contest didn’t make it past the third round. With Carryer and Garvey out, three contestants remained. As the timekeeper called out the thirty second warning, Dammy Mustapha threw in the towel followed by Marcus Hass. That left just one: Ryan Cummings, the defending champ.
Cummings had done it. Again.
As nurses, on call in case of an emergency, distributed bottles of water and milk to the steaming contestants Jack Healey, the event’s master of ceremonies talked with Cummings on stage.
“Last year you went all the way,” Healey said. “This year didn’t even get warmed up!”
Cummings gulped milk and wiped sauce from his face.
“Round three this year was like round four last year,” he said. “They did step up the heat. And they were definitely better tasting this year.”
Topping last year’s battle was a priority for Andrea McCaully, the catering manager at Castleton.
“We are learning the warriors each year can take a little more pressure on the battlefield,” McCaully said.
She is already looking ahead to next year’s wings contest and for ideas to top this year. She wants to get faculty involved and maybe bring in fire-eaters from other colleges to make the competition really competitive.
She also wants to bring down Cummings.
“Ryan told us we could never, ever, beat the heat that he could eat,” she said. “And I’m like- we’ll try again next year.