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Hanging with the Bear

By competitive eating editor Naader 'Freak8r' Reda

Posted October 06, 2012
freak8r and the bear enjoy a sandwich sesh
Fancy a sarnie? Freak8r (left) and the Bear (right) enjoy a nibble at Mix N Munch. © Naader Reda

This year, the sandwich celebrates its 250th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate this than with a light lunch down Mix N Munch.

Jamie McDonald reminds me of myself in a few disturbing ways.

On a recent visit to Southern California, he called up an awesome restaurant with a cool eating challenge and asked them to DOUBLE IT for us.

Mind you, the man known as 'the Bear' had never been to Mix N Munch Cafe before Wednesday.

I had – I sampled their standard size Big Food Challenge, consisting of six massive grilled cheese sandwiches and a 32 oz (0.9 kg) cookie bowl, essentially cereal and Oreos soaked in milk.

Last year, in October, I tamed that beast in 22 minutes and topped it off with a half-gallon (1.9 litre) milk on the dare of a friend.

Jamie's something of an overachiever.

I don't blame him, though.

The guy eats like a thresher and always comes back for more.

When he proposed doubling the challenge, Mix N Munch was curious.

I was curious too: could a Freak hang with the Bear!?

When we met at the cafe last Wednesday, I knew it was history in the making.

Teaching history1 is one thing, but making it as you go is something else entirely.

We chatted a bit – he's a friendly guy and very serious about what he does.

That reminds me of me as well.

As one friend observed, you can be a smart guy and still do incredibly stupid things.

Trying to eat two massive challenge platters (apiece) in 90 minutes is definitely not Einstein material.

It's more likely Darwin Award material.

Maybe this is what we should make future aspirants to the White House do before throwing their hat in the ring.

Because eating this much grease and sugar in one sitting is sure to lower your IQ.

If insanity quotients existed, Jamie and I added to ours immeasurably in one go.

But, hey, the food was delicious!

Once we were off, all sensibility went out the window and we did what we do best.




Jamie was powering through the food with easy intensity.

He built a lead on me and never let up.

At 15 minutes I was done with the first platter, but the Bear was already well into his second.

Jamie kept going... and he got the all clear at 31 minutes.

Holy hell.

The owner couldn't believe what she seeing.

I could barely believe it myself, but with a $60 bill hanging over me I had to get over it quickly and keep ploughing.

My second platter was done at 84 minutes.

Jamie called my win a testament to willpower, and he wasn't lying.

The fat and carbs really get to you, especially when you're eating 12 lbs' (5.4 kg) worth.

Those last bites were fights.

But we were champions.


What that means, of course, is questionable.

We looked like crap and felt just a bit worse.

Our guts were swollen and distended.

I resembled a pregnant woman in the second trimester, and I could almost feel morning sickness coming on.

Jamie could hardly stand or talk.

But we won.

Our bodies, our brains had just run internal marathons.

The first to attempt, and the first to defeat, the all-new Super Food Challenge at Mix N Munch Cafe in South Pasadena, California.

What an epic meeting.

What an epic meal.

I see great things ahead for Jamie.

Just as long as he doesn't try to eat my food.

I really worried about that for a second.

Naader 'Freak8r' Reda is a California-based competitive eater with a pedigree as long as a docker's tea break. In 2011, in addition to competing in numerous contests and championships, he set himself the gargantuan goal of taking on 100 eating challenges across North America. He won 97. In recognition of this, All Pro Eating crowned him the World's Top Food Challenger. The man can eat. But more than that, he can also write. As such, the Rake & Herald is truly honoured to also crown him the World's Top Competitive Eating Editor. The dude's a dude, dude. And if you're still not convinced, get a load of this.


1) As well as being a phenomenal gurgitator, Freak8r also teaches history to high school students. Man, I bet his lessons are ace. In fact, you can see him teaching a former student here.

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