University Chicken teaches fiery lesson

April 3, 2008 — by Vijay Chetty

Most students let off steam after final exams, but junior Ray-young Tsao was literally letting off steam after eating the hottest and spiciest chicken wings he had ever eaten.

Tsao was taking part in the well-known 911 Challenge at University Chicken. The legendary challenge, which some jokingly consider to be a test of “manhood,“ consists of eating 12 burning-hot chicken wings smothered in University Chicken’s Global Thermonuclear sauce and Habanero pepper sauce under ten minutes while not having access to any liquid.

“The first piece of chicken tasted pretty good, but since each piece of chicken was smothered in the 911 sauce, it began to burn out my sense of taste,” said Tsao. “All I felt was fire, and the taste gradually dulled out. I also lost my reason and track of time.”

Tsao, who partook in the challenge with fellow junior Jason Huang, went with friends to University Chicken after junior Mihir Sathe mentioned that his brother took part in the challenge.

Tsao did not entirely expect to be able to handle the spice and temperature, but he planned on “powering through the challenge.”

“As soon as they brought the chicken out, I felt really regretful. The smell was so pungent and sharp that it made me almost want to puke,” said Tsao. “On second thought, change ‘really’ to ‘a bit’ because it was worth the experience.”

Sathe did not take part in the challenge because he was taking photos. The pained reactions of Tsao and Huang attracted many admiring and curious glances in the restaurant. While Huang finished one wing and Tsao finished four, that amount was enough to cause turmoil in their mouths and stomachs.

“I could not stop laughing,” said Sathe. “They said it burned and it hurt a lot, but I think it was worth it in the end.”

Tsao and Huang were vindicated when their friends tried some and suffered pain.

“They were all laughing at me and my pain until they decided to try some for themselves,” said Tsao.

While successful participants receive a t-shirt and a picture in the “Wall of Fame” at University Chicken, the bragging rights and the memories serve as far greater rewards.

Sathe cautions against overconfidence.

“You have to know you’re going to get owned,” said Sathe. “They make you sign a waiver. You’re signing you’re life away, saying they are not liable for anything that happens to you.”

University Chicken provides the chicken wings for free but requires all participants to sign a waiver that explicity states 7 rules in uppercase font.
After partaking in the challenge and exhausting his tolerance, Tsao bolted for the door and downed cartons of milk that his friends were holding.

“The temperature and smell were way worse than the spice,” said Tsao.

Tsao’s and Huang’s strategy was to finish all the wings before the spices began to act, but the wings were at such a high temperature that they burned the fingertips and mouths, thus slowing them down.

“I felt really disappointed in myself,” said Tsao, when asked about his performance in the challenge. “I think I went into the challenge with the wrong mindset.”

Then, Tsao perks up with the determined voice of a 911 Challenge champion.

“But I’m definitely going back sometime in the future to claim the prize.”

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