Big Fat Ugly: Waging war with your stomach

It takes a certain kind of person to stomach a Big Fat Ugly sandwich from Fat Sandwich. It takes the kind of person that can plow through four cheeseburgers, a double cheesesteak, a pork roll, a chicken cheesesteak, sausage, gyro meat, and grilled chicken, and then move on to demolish mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, bacon, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese bites, fried mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, pizza bites, onion rings, hash browns, mini corn dogs, American cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.

All sandwiched between two rolls. And all in less than 15 minutes in order to be considered reigning champion of the Big Fat Ugly.

How does one prepare to consume such a monstrous sandwich – if five and a half pounds of fried food can even be called by such a name?

It comes down to a science, really. John Jaeger, senior in LAS, knows a thing or two about taking down the most colossal sandwich in a 10-mile radius of Campustown. Jaeger not only managed to wolf down every last morsel of the Big Fat Ugly in 10 minutes and 29 seconds in October of 2008, but he went back for seconds this year and conquered the beastly sandwich again.

“You don’t treat it like a lady, you treat it like a monster,” Jaeger said.

In the same way that an ordinary person cannot wake up and decide to run a marathon, Jaeger knew better than to try to swindle the Big Fat Ugly. With epic feats of this nature, there needs to be strategy, technique and above all, a method to the madness.

Jaeger practiced stretching his stomach out in the days leading up to the big event by gulping down a gallon of water in 15 minutes.

“The stomach is like any other muscle,” Jaeger said. “You’ve got to stretch it out.”

Once the stomach is good and stretched, and not to mention hydrated, Jaeger said the real challenge begins. His tried and true strategy to succeed starts with picking apart the 17,000-calorie monster piece by piece, and then eating as fast as humanly possible.

“When people eat it and pick it up like a sandwich, (they’ve) already lost. You go to war with it, and I do,” Jaeger said. “It’s kind of an ugly process, but it’s the only way to win.”

Mike Campbell, general manager of the restaurant, said the restaurant has sold over 600 Big Fat Uglys in the two years it’s been open. Of these 600, he said nearly two-thirds are attempts at the Big Fat Ugly Challenge- a challenge that brings more than Fat Sandwich glory. The $25 smorgasbord of deep-fried meats is free if finished in 15 minutes, with no extra charge for clogged arteries.

Of the many that have attempted to tackle the brutish Big Fat Ugly, few have prevailed.

Campbell said he tried eating it once, but could only finish half of it.

“Nope, I am not man enough for this,” Campbell said of the attempt. “I am stopping while I can still stand up.”

Dan Armgardt, senior in LAS, witnessed both of Jaeger’s triumphs. As a Fat Sandwich employee, he has also witnessed those lesser-eaters’ struggles to pick and nibble at the ugliest sandwich in existence.

“No one ever really comes close, except for John,” Armgardt said. “He was ripping the sandwich apart and just attacked.”

Jaeger said eating the sandwich was harder the second time, even though he had the confidence to do so.

“You definitely can hit a wall. There is that moment when you think to yourself ‘I can’t eat anymore. I couldn’t possibly eat another bite,’” Jaeger said. “And then you have an epiphany. And you say ‘I’ve already gone this far, and tomorrow is gonna hurt, but I’ve gotta go all the way with it.”

When the whole thing is done and over with, Jaeger said he walks away with a sore jaw and a bursting belt.

“I didn’t have to eat for the rest of the day. That’s enough meals for a small African country,” he said. “Is this the end of my competitive eating career? I guess only time will tell.”