On Monday, I was alerted to the fact that a local Chick-fil-A (East Lake off Roswell Road in Marietta, GA) was going to be hosting an “All You Can Eat Nugget Night” from 5-7 p.m. It was a call to action; the kind of thing college me dreamed of. I knew I couldn’t pass it up.
As Tuesday rolled around, I prepared to feast. I ate a modest lunch at 10:30 a.m. — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a few Cape Cod chips — and then began plotting my nug-goal. It’d been a long time since I’d really gotten after an eating competition of sorts and general lifestyle changes since college had me a bit concerned about what kind of numbers I could put up.
I knew 100 was out of the question — but still wanted to set the bar high. Eventually, I settled on 82. One nugget more than Kobe Bryant’s highest-scoring game. Wilt Chamberlain might be out of reach, but Kobe? I could do that.
I got to the Chick-fil-A 20 minutes early, to ensure I got a seat, knowing that with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution posting about the event the place would fill up quickly. I felt good. I had the proper attire (Nike Dri-Fit sweatpants, Champion Atlanta Hawks windbreaker, etc.). I was ready for the challenge.
They got started early at 4:50 to speed up the process as people filed in. The rules were, you got 12 nuggets, a medium fry, and a medium drink for $12.99. Nuggets and the drink were refillable, fries were not. Going in, I knew the fries were a trap that would only fill me up — I decided not to waste time with them. After the first box of 12, the staffers would bring out boxes of six nuggets at a time, freshly cooked, and you could only get more once you completed your most recent box, in order to avoid tons of wasted nuggets.
I ripped through the first 36 with little problem, needing only 18 minutes and using just a little ketchup for cooling (the nuggets were impressively hot and fresh) with only a little water to drink. I wanted to reserve as much space as possible for nuggets. I knew eventually I’d need some flavor variety with my sweet tea but wanted to save that for desperate times.
By this point, the Chick-fil-A was filling up. The booths to my right were jammed with high schoolers. In one booth, two kids worked on their chemistry homework while putting down nuggets. In another, three kids in shirts and ties, on their way to over 100 nuggets consumed between them, discussed the best practices and strategy for how to eat the most possible nuggs.
“You fill up on sauce,” one said, voicing concern with his friend’s dipping habits.
“Professional eaters always eat with water,” another replied when asked what to drink.
To my left, a guy worked his way through the challenge eating with a fork, a la George Costanza with a candy bar, ensuring his hands would avoid getting greasy (or burned by the hot nuggets). In front of me, a young man that couldn’t have been over 15 worked his way into the 60s with his mother watching on, thrilled that she had found a cost effective way to satiate the bottomless pit that is a teenage boy.