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Prose and Kohn

Take on these Sarasota food challenges — if you dare

In honor of July 4's hot dog challenge, these local challenges will have your mouth and stomach putting up a fight.

Munchies 420 Cafe offers the "Fire In Your Hole!!" wing challenge.
Munchies 420 Cafe offers the "Fire In Your Hole!!" wing challenge.
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It is nearly July 4, and as much as that day makes me feel patriotic and proud to be an American, it also makes me think about hot dogs and perhaps the greatest athlete the 50 states have ever known. 

I am talking, of course, about Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, the reigning Nathan's Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest champion of the world. On July 4, 2022, Chestnut ate 63 hot dogs and buns to win the title, which sounds like a lot until you remember that Chestnut's world record is 76 hot dogs, which he set in 2021. From that perspective, 2022 was a down year for Chestnut, but the competition itself was weird —  Chestnut was recovering from a leg injury, and he was interrupted during the competition by a fan wearing a Darth Vader mask who was seeking some unearned attention from the internet. It did not matter much; Chestnut threw down the trespasser and continued eating, and by the end of his 10 minutes, he still smoked the competition. 

Marc Kohn and Ryan Kohn attend the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, in 2013.
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The lede of this column is not ironic. I truly believe Chestnut, 39, is one of the greatest athletes living today. I even went with my father to watch the competition in person on July 4, 2013, when Chestnut won by eating 69 dogs, at the time a world record. 

His hot dog capacity is well known, but think about all of the other foods he has trained his body to hold: Chestnut owns the world record for eggs (141 hard-boiled in 8 minutes), cheesesteaks (23 6-inch subs in 10 minutes), jalapeno poppers (118 in 10 minutes), bowls of gumbo (15 16-ounce bowls in eight minutes) and cherry pie (17.5 pounds in eight minutes). That's just a taste. You can see more of his records at The point is, the man has range, and he's not afraid to use it. 

I played baseball and football growing up. I was not raised to gorge on 390 shrimp wontons in eight minutes (another Chestnut record). A large eating capacity is not a skill I have. But I greatly respect the people who do, and I have a hunch that some people with that capacity reside in Sarasota. So, in the spirit of the day, I've compiled a list of some food challenges in the area, in case you decide to honor Chestnut and take one on this July 4. 

Munchies 420 Cafe

Munchies calls their challenge "Fire In Your Hole!!" and it is wing-based. Eat 10 wings coated in the cafe's special, secret sauce, and you get a free T-shirt and, according to the menu, "eternal glory"  while competitors who fail the challenge will get shamed on the internet. Talk about high stakes. 

Since the rise of the entertaining and actually insightful celebrity interview show "Hot Ones," I've taken an interest in hot wing challenges, but this one sounds even worse than what Sean Evans puts his guests through. The challenge is required to have 24 hours notice, and participants must 18 or older and sign a liability waiver before chowing down. A sign that the challenge is no joke? Former "Man vs. Food" host Adam Richman attempted the challenge and failed. 

If you want to try your luck, it will run you $32.99. Wimps need not apply, as the cafe's menu says. In this case, I think I'm OK being a wimp. 

Rico's Pizzeria

Rico's Pizzeria offers "The Big Ritchie" pizza challenge.
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Now this is what I'm talking about. Rico's Pizzeria's challenge, "The Big Ritchie," is about three things I like a lot: friendship, determination and delicious pizza.  

The challenge goes like this: two people get 45 minutes to eat an entire 24-inch pizza with three toppings, including the crust. Rico's estimates that the average challenge equates to 12 pounds of pizza. That's a lot of food, but with a friend helping you out, it doesn't sound impossible if you want it bad enough and bring a big enough stomach. Contestants can drink whatever they want during the challenge, with water being free and soda or beer coming out of the contestants' pockets. 

This, to me, is the ideal food challenge. Nothing against hot foods, as I like them quite a bit, but when talking about food challenges, I always picture them as eating "X" amount of food in "X" amount of time, as is tradition in the hot dog world. Call me a purist if you must, but it's how I feel. I would absolutely watch Chestnut and another MLE competitor take Rico's challenge head-on. 

If you attempt the challenge, make sure you keep your stomach contents intact. Otherwise, you'll have to clean up the mess yourself — though Rico's helpfully says it will provide you with a mop. 

Each winner receives a T-shirt and gets their meal for free, as well as the pride of knowing that they accomplished a great feat. A failure means the challenge will run its competitors about $60. More information can be found at

Solorzano Brothers

Hosted by the pizzeria's Webber Street location, the Solorzano Brothers' "Gavone Challenge" is done solo. Competitors must down a 20-inch cheese pizza (New Jersey style), plus six "softball-sized" garlic knots and a basket of cheesy garlic bread, all in 30 minutes or less. It sounds like the limit on a human's consumption of carbs in that time frame, but it also sounds delicious. Again, this is the type of challenge I respect the most, as it's purely about how bad you want it. 

Professional food challenge-taker Randy Santel attempted the challenge in 2021 and finished in 27 minutes, 6 seconds. At the time, Santel was just the third person to complete the challenge, which should give some idea of how tough it is. 

Challenge champions receive their meal for free, plus a T-shirt, a $25 gift token and a picture on the restaurant's wall of fame. Losers have to pay for the meal to the tune of $35. The challenge has to be set up ahead of time, so if you're interested, call 926-4276. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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