Chicago's Sweetest Food Challenge: The Beast

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Chicago's Sweetest Food Challenge: The Beast
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Jamie "Bear" McDonald beginning The Beast challenge. (Photo courtesy of Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice …

Chicago is stuffed with food challenges, and many include 5-pound burgers, huge quantities of wings, and enormous sandwiches, but there is a sweeter side to the city's eating contests that many may not know. In fact, this food challenge went five and a half years without a winner, and it's still elusive, with only one winner lining the Wall of Fame. Want to be the next? Read on before you decide.

The Beast

The owner of two Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream stores, Rich Wierenga, along with three of his waitresses, created an ice cream sundae that is rightfully nicknamed "The Beast." It is made with 18 scoops of ice cream, six bananas, two apples, three brownies, Brazil nuts, pecans, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, strawberries, and vanilla wafers. Wierenga describes it perfectly, "It is three of our signature sundaes on top of each other on steroids."

There is so much deliciousness in this concoction that one must practically stand up to eat it since the oversized goblet is so tall. There's a reason why only one person has been able to finish, and it's not for a lack of willing contestants, although Wierenga admits, "I have not tried it myself. I am not that crazy."

The Beast also has to be consumed within an hour to avoid your picture going up on the Wall of Shame and paying $50. But if you tame The Beast, you'll be a local celebrity for years to come, with your picture on the Wall of Fame.

The Bridgeview, Illinois, location was the first to challenge locals until 2012, when the original Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream brought the challenge into the heart of Chicago. The original Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream at 3685 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, is also crowned with the first and only win of The Beast challenge since it was created six years ago. The reigning champion is competitive eater Jamie "Bear" McDonald.

Jamie 'Bear' McDonald

His nickname says it all. Not only has McDonald swallowed The Beast, but he has also overtaken many food challenges as a competitive eater and bodybuilder. All Pro Eating has named him the world's No. 1 Independent Competitive Eater as of January 2013. This comes after they named him Competitive Rookie of the Year in 2012.

This is how serious The Beast challenge is. And if you think it was easy for McDonald, check out the photos of his hour-long adventure on Lindy's Facebook page. His face says it all. Think you can hang with the professionals? Visit the Bridgeview store or the original Lindy's Chili on Archer.

All About Lindy's Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream

Gertie's Ice Cream began in 1901 and Lindy's Chili in 1924. Originally, they were two separate stores until 1924, when Joseph Yesutis purchased the stores and combined them. By combining the two businesses, he strengthened their weaknesses. Business for Gertie's Ice Cream was slow during the day and busy in the evening, and vice versa for Lindy's Chili. After the merger, the business thrived and now has locations throughout Chicagoland.

Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.

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