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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