Food challenges come in all shapes and sizes. From gigantic burgers to buckets of ice cream, there are many ways for the greedy to etch their name into foodie folklore. However, as with many of the most important things in life, size isn't everything. Some of the toughest tests on the planet may lack bulk, but pack a serious bite. For chilliheads, these spicy summits are the ultimate obstacles, providing a challenge that is mental as well as physical. Incorporating a wealth of world cuisines, here are six of the fieriest food contests on the face of the planet.
1. The Initiation - Wingsters
With some of the most brutal raw ingredients of any challenge on this list, 'The Initiation' at Wingsters in Dubai also justifies its place thanks to a set of draconian rules. Eight of Earth's spiciest chicken wings need to be eaten in four minutes or less, before the start of a five-minute 'afterburn' period. Contestants are forbidden from drinking any liquid or wiping their face and hands, and must finish a whole wing before moving onto the next one. With any breach resulting in disqualification, many challengers find that they've bitten off more than they can chew.
2. The Inferno Bowl - Nitally's Thai-Mex Cuisine
A challenge that remained undefeated until relatively recently, the now legendary 'Inferno Bowl' at Nitally's is a challenge of both size and spice. Consisting of a giant, fiery pho containing 13 different types of chilli pepper, the challenge requires contestants to empty the entire 48 oz. bowl in 45 minutes or less. Any successful attempt is rewarded with a cheque for $1,500, and eating challenge immortality. However, with a failure rate of 99 percent, this is not one for the amateurs.
3. Korean Suicide Burrito - John's Snack and Deli
A bite of this tortilla wrapped heat tube was described by prominent foodblogger Foodyssyeus as "like a pitch-soaked rock from a flaming catapult assaulting the flailing fortress of (his) constitution". Made with a mix of Chinese, Korean and Mexican peppers, it's easy to see how the Korean Suicide Burrito could leave such a lasting impression. This is a challenge that has been known to reduce grown men to tears. Approach with caution.
4. Inferno Pizza Challenge - Pazza Bistro
Ever since the innovation of chilli oil, pizza patrons have been intent on spicing up their pies at every opportunity. However, the 'Inferno Pizza Challenge' from Pazza Bistro might have taken this trend a tad too far. With chillies infused at every stage of the process, this pizza is topped with fresh habaneros, jalapeños and ghost peppers, as well as a healthy slosh of "fire sauce". Contestants are allowed only one glass of water, no napkins and have to lick their fingers clean after eating. To date, it has only been beaten once.
5. The Four Horsemen - Chunky's
Typically, the variety of components found in a normal burger mean that they are ill suited to spicy challenges. Unfortunately, 'The Four Horsemen' is not a normal burger. Incorporating four fiendish chillies, including habanero and ghost pepper, contestants are given 25 minutes to eat the whole thing, plus an extra five to keep it down. That they even have to specify this as part of the challenge should set alarm bells ringing.
6. XXX Hot Wings - Jake Melnick's Top Corner Tap
Hot wings have become such a fixture of the spicy food scene that's it's almost impossible to select one or two worthy of the title of "spiciest wings". Whichever way you look at it, the XXX Hot Wings from Top Corner Tap are certainly strong contenders. Made with habanero, ghost chilli and Trinidadian scorpion butch-T peppers, the restaurant apparently had to get US Department of Health clearance before the wings could be legally sold.
Different levels of spice will always be subjective. For some, a jalapeño will be too piquant, will others will relish the fruity tang of a ghost pepper. Whatever your tolerance, the challenges on this list warrant some serious respect. Chilliheads be warned - this way be monsters.