A chicken, a steak, a pork chop, a slab of ribs, a hot dog, a slider and a brat – what sounds like a smorgasbord for a weekend barbecue was only a small portion of Juan Rodriguez and Sarah Reinecke’s lunch Sunday when they took on Crystal Lake Rib House’s “Mega Mary.”
The two competitive eaters spent more than an hour trying to finish a “Mega Mary” each. The specialty usually serves between four and six people.
The 32-ounce bloody mary is topped with pounds of meat – from ribs to pepperoni to a chicken – along with olives, pickles, cheese curds, fried jalapeños, onion rings, french fries, doughnuts and other pastries, a bagel, a soft pretzel and even a bag of cheese crackers.
“It started as a joke,” said David Faccone, owner of the Rib House.
Faccone said that he uses skewers by Skewer This, a McHenry-based business owned by William Metropulos. The skewers were strong enough to begin constructing the Mega Mary, and Faccone put the drink – with all its toppings – on the bar.
“Brunch service was just finishing up, and everyone wanted a picture with it,” he said. “So we sent it to Skewer This, [Metropulos] put it on the website, and it went viral. … It’s become a bit of a cult. We have people from all over the country that come specifically for this.”
Rodriguez and Reinecke are both ranked with the Major League of Eating and travel around the country to take part in competitive eating challenges.
“I was a fat kid,” Rodriguez said. “And I was always down for a challenge. I rarely say no. ... I always wanted to be an athlete. I always imagined being on the grand stage for something. I didn’t know it’d be for competitive eating.”
Reinecke said that she fell into the sport because of her naturally big appetite.
“I have always been a big eater,” she said. “I started to do contests, and the rest is history. It’s insane.”
Rodriguez finished the challenge in about an hour and 10 minutes. Reinecke didn’t get through it.