Failing The 50 Nugget Challenge, Or A Commentary On The Hubris of Man

By Ryan Cady

Honestly, even the McDonald's Media Kit photos look gross right now

We've all done things we regret. Maybe you've overdrawn your debit account, or lied to a spouse, or had one too many drinks and suffered a legendary hangover -- me, well, this one time I ate 45 Chicken McNuggets in one sitting.

Excess really is the pinnacle of stupid bro-culture. Sure, pounding shot after shot of cheap liquor is quote-unquote epic, but at least with booze, the more you drink, the better you feel (for the most part). But when it comes to half-assed, harebrained overeating contests, nobody wins. It's not just the morning after that feels like hell -- it's the entire period of time until the next bowel movement (bowel movement included).

The 50 Nugget Challenge is something that my friends and I have been talking about for over two years. I don't remember why; it probably started because of some ludicrous deal Mickey D's was offering. It just a joke of course; we were never actually going to do it. That is, until the stars of stupidity aligned just right, on Nov. 29, 2013.

My friends and I had finalized the plans the night before, on Thanksgiving. We figured our bellies would be fully distended from the turkey overdose, and as long as we didn't eat much in between, our overindulgence would be a walk in the park. My buddies figured a few shots beforehand might even make it easier -- hell, maybe even fun. We were wrong. We were naïve.

Photo by Ryan Cady
The aftermath, as photographed by a hand addled by grease and chicken parts

The gorging began at around 8 p.m. The lady behind the counter was either fed up or used to our particular brand of bullshit because when we put in an order for 150 McNuggets, she didn't so much as bat an eye. We each walked out with a large Coke, a large fry (to break up oily beigeness with more oily beigeness, of course), multiple containers of each dipping sauce, and 50 Chicken McNuggets. We drifted back to my buddy Sean's house, our spirits high, and the feast began.

It was just three of us tackling the challenge: myself, my buddy Sean, and our mentor, his cousin Travis. A true paragon of masculinity, Travis had already eaten a plate of fish tacos for lunch that afternoon. Our fourth, David Wells, was slated to join in the bacchanal, but he came down with a sudden case of sanity and backed out, though he showed up later to witness the carnage. We attracted an audience: Andy, a mutual pal, Travis' girlfriend and most of Sean's family. It was like a second Thanksgiving, but with twice the sickening gluttony.

The first nugget was fine. So was the second, the fifth and the 20th. The sad fact of it is that, up until the 30th nugget, I was actually feeling pretty good.

I don't eat McDonald's that much, and it was kind of nostalgic, slathering the fried pink ammoniated slime bits in ranch dressing and stuffing them down my gullet. We laughed, we made jokes and the scene was merry.

Then, quite dramatically, it all began to change. At nugget 30, Sean began to stare gravely at his remaining food. He looked like he wanted to belch but had no mouth. I began to notice that what had become a total lack of flavor (even when doused in sauce) was transmogrifying into a hideous, rubbery tang. After nugget 38, every bite was a struggle. Sean's father hovered like a vulture, calling dibs on whatever we didn't finish.

I glanced over at Travis, and shuddered. He was dead.

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JGlanton topcommenter

That was fun! 

What's in those nuggets, anyway?

What's the next challenge?  Eat 15 McD hamburgers.

JBinOC topcommenter

Who is this Ryan Cady?  

He's a decent writer.  

I tell you, some life is starting to be breathed into this infernal blog (which has been more abysmal than infernal in the recent past).  Charles Lam is reporting timely scoops and writes great ledes, and Sarah Bennett's Long Beach Lunch is consistently solid.  And L.P. Hastings' affinity for the Chicken Tortilla soup at Fresh & Easy speaks volumes about her potential.  

The youth are almost starting to excuse the dreadful content the adults are churning out, whether it be [Adult #1] praising restaurants on Irvine Company property as actually being good (and then 'discovering' Costa Mesa as a dining hotbed...something the rest of us did in the mid-2000s)...or [Adult #2] timidly covering those gems in Ladera Ranch and Mission Viejo in genuine, colorless, detail-less OC Register-style...or [Adult #3] pecking out "diatribes" with the same precious fingers that mix cocktails for the pretentious colonizers of Downtown Santa Ana. 


(and you knew there was a 'but')....

just as " the pinnacle of stupid bro-culture," 

it's also the pinnacle of college journalism style.  

My advice to Mr. Lam and Mr. Cady would be to stop feeling the need to affirm your heterosexuality, your taste for alcohol, and the fact that you have bowel movements in such a protracted way in every piece, and write snappier, more succinct, and subliminally humble stuff.  Start reading a magazine like Time Out New York (or London), watch The Simpsons, maybe peruse The'll see your stuff improve when you get more intense exposure to that type of tight, irreverent writing.  

This ain't college's alt-weekly journalism...

something, um, just slightly better (but which pays about the same).  

Go kill it.  We need you.  

Claire Morgan
Claire Morgan

funny, but gross. and not surprising. rather do a power hour.

Michael Frey
Michael Frey

Did 64 and a large fries in highschool. U mad?

Ryan Mramer
Ryan Mramer

Tom Kernan Jeff Holm You projectile vomited on the 49th nugget hahaha. Do you still have that video Jeff?

RocketJ topcommenter

@Josh McIntosh  My boy says he can eat fifty eggs, he can eat fifty eggs.

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