Three slices were all that separated two brave young men from competitive eating glory. The task: the Polito’s Challenge of eating 12 lbs. of pizza in one hour. The reward: $500 cash.
On Saturday, Edgar Wyman, senior sociology and social work major, and Eric Schreiber, junior English major, attempted this monumental task, known to many in the Stevens Point area as one of the most difficult competitive eating challenges in existence.
Commenting on his decision to take up the challenge, Wyman said, "This was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life."
Despite Wyman’s sarcastic self-derogation, according to his girlfriend, Natalie Schmitt, eating is one of Edgar’s passions. She notes this in his and Schreiber’s dedication to preparing for the challenge. Several of the pair’s friends were in attendance, cheering them on throughout the hour and providing moral support. Strangers and employees alike began to take notice when victory seemed within their grasp. The remaining slices proved too great a task to surmount, and the buzzer rang with three squares remaining.
"Well, they started training on Monday, so every night and during the day they’ve eaten large amounts of food," Schmitt said. "They’ve kept a positive attitude, even when they haven’t been able to finish some of their training food."
"I felt really strong at the start; it was going down really easy,"
Schreiber said. "And then it got towards the end, and I felt just the worst imaginable feeling ever."
Wyman echoed these sentiments, lamenting the quagmire of nausea the duo became mired in.
"At the beginning, I felt like it was pretty easy," Wyman said. "At the end I just felt like—well, like 20 minutes went by and I only took like eight bites or something—I just felt like I was going nowhere."
By the end of the challenge, Polito’s employees began to bring out courtesy garbage bags. Schreiber was able to expel the pizza from his stomach, while Wyman was unable to purge himself.
Although Wyman and Schreiber’s bid at Polito’s fame fell just short, General Manager Phil Johnson was amazed by how much they ate as competitive eating amateurs.
"We have four stores and there have only been two teams [to complete it]—in La Crosse and Oshkosh— and they were both professional eaters," Johnson said. "Our second year in Oshkosh we were open we had two girls that almost did it, and this is the closest anybody’s ever came besides them."
Though they didn’t earn the $500 prize--each earning a Polito’s T-shirt for their efforts--Wyman and Schreiber were extremely proud, despite the overwhelming nausea.
"I’m pretty proud of us," Schreiber said. "I’m proud of Eddie, and I’m proud of myself, and I think we did good, just not good enough. But we’ll get ‘em next time."
If you find yourself brave enough to tackle the Polito’s Challenge, visit their store in downtown Stevens Point or call (715) 341-9980.