The Huron Emery

Ben Zhao , Guest Writer

Speed eating is much more difficult than most of us think. Just ask local senior Ben Zhang, who thought he could down eight McChickens in eight minutes.

Benjamin Zhang was a proud and honorable man, full of hope and dreams for the future. That all changed one fateful day when he slowly descended into the abyss of despair. But to truly understand his story, let us go back to the moment before the eating challenge, to follow and understand his journey to darkness.

Zhang initially proposed the idea as a bet, thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to get a free meal from McDonald’s. In order to prepare for the event, he opted to skip breakfast and lunch in an attempt to starve himself, to increase what little space he had in his stomach. 

He came in with swagger and confidence, eager to take on the challenge. Unfortunately, he set his expectations too high, falling behind right from the first McChicken, spending just over two minutes to consume the entire sandwich, nearly twice the time recommended per McChicken (one minute per McChicken, since the challenge is eight McChickens in eight minutes). 

There was a noticeable drop in Zhang’s morale by the second McChicken. The realization that he could not complete the task dawned on him, slowly and visibly. His chewing slowed, and he began laughing at his own naiveness of ever thinking that he had a chance. Zhang kept taking quick glances at the mountain of sandwiches left, and one could see the light slowly fading from his eyes as the once bright, ambitious man delved deeper into the realm of hopelessness and despair. His expression went from one of confidence to one of pure pain. By the third McChicken, Zhang was having an existential crisis. He began questioning his very own existence, thinking about his entire life, the mistakes that he has made, all culminating to this one moment. Where did he go wrong? 

As the eighth minute drew near, one could see in his eyes the soul of a lost man—one who has been led astray in this world. As the eight-minute timer went off, the once proud Zhang sat defeated, with five more uneaten McChickens still pristinely wrapped in front of him. What a waste.

Not only did this challenge take a physical toll on Zhang, it also severely affected his mental health. 

“Nothing in this world can keep me alive except someone walking in and telling me that I got accepted into MIT,” Zhang said. When asked whether or not he has applied to MIT, he responded with a resounding “No.” 

Zhang, clearly, had lost it. He spent the rest of his time at McDonalds in quiet reflection, his eyes wandering, lost, along the horizon. 

He was never the same again.

Zhang’s experience showcases the true hardships of competitive eating, and only gives more credit to the professional eaters in our world. Throughout the years, there have been several deaths related to competitive eating, many of which result from choking. Take his experience as a warning before recklessly trying to speed eat anything in the future, know your own limits and set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember to pick your battles everyone, and in this case, it seems that Zhang picked the wrong one.