Ginormous Food by the Numbers
America's unifying culinary philosophy: Go big or go home. Josh Denny screws up his courage and packs his appetite across this great country to find the largest, in-chargest versions of what we feed each other—and we've got the raw (and cooked) data on what he's encountered.
Photo By: Erika Doss
Photo By: Matthew LaVere
Photo By: John Michael Cooper
16: Diameter (in inches) of the B.F.D.
For peace of mind, let’s assume that B.F.D. stands for “Big Friendly Donut.” If this 9-pound, glazed and chocolate-filled beast—born at Tucson’s Stray Dogs Grill—means us harm, we’re all in trouble.
9: Layers of Meat in the Cincinnasti
At Bard’s Burgers & Chili in Covington, Ky., the burger and chili pros pay tribute to Cincinnati delicacies with a monument-sized sandwich: Six beef patties alternate with layers of cheese and fresh toppings and three layers of goetta (a sausage-ish German-American breakfast staple made of meat and grain). To date, Bard’s hasn’t added Cincy-style spaghetti to the tower—but we wouldn’t put it past them.
6:3:1: Ratio (in Pounds) of Beef to Slaw to Provolone in the Titan Cheesesteak
Nashville’s Piranha's doesn’t stop there: It also blankets its foot-high creation with a layer of hand-cut French fries (wouldn’t want the big fella to get cold).
28: Length (in Inches) of the El Bandito Burrito
You’ve got to be mean to survive in the desert, and the fearsome El Bandito Burrito at El Palacio in Chandler, Ariz., is certainly that. It’s a javelina-sized combination of—settle in for a long story, here—carne asada, pollo asado, avocado, onion, tomato, tamale, chile relleno, Mexican rice, house-made beans, (pause for breath) red and green enchilada sauces, cheese, cilantro-and-onion crema and guacamole. You have been warned.
37.3: Percentage of 3-Year-Old Boys Shorter than the Uber Terminator
If you’re planning on going head to head (or head to toe) with the massive mettwurst sandwich (made with a raw minced pork that’s cured and smoked with garlic) at Cincinnati’s Mecklenburg Gardens, note that it hasn’t stopped growing: Beer hall visitors report that it’s gotten even longer since Josh stopped by to pay his respects.
12: Fried Eggs in the Ultimate Southern Style Breakfast
There’s no legwork involved in the breakfast buffet at Atlanta’s Peach & the Porkchop—the waffles, eggs, bacon and chicken wings come right to your table as a single order on a massive platter. Efficient, no?
30: Pounds of Seafood (and Reptile) in the Big Bayou Monster
Award-winning chef Henry Chandler (of Henry’s Louisiana Grill in downtown Acworth, Ga.) assembles his swamp thing by piling a 9-foot-long expanse of bread with battered and fried shrimp, oysters and alligator, then crowning it with remoulade. Josh is impressed: “You somehow got as much flavor in this thing as you did size,” he says.
32: Ounces of Spicy Booze in Wake Up Juice
A two-pint Bloody Mary calls for a meal’s worth of garnishes: Meet the finishing touches at Bone Lick BBQ in Atlanta, including house-pickled vegetables, a center-cut spare rib and a slider. Good morning ... and good night.
48: Hours Required to Prepare Bubbie’s Belly Buster
Most sliders would sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. The 10-pound Jewish slider served up at Chompie’s in Phoenix, by contrast, would take up most of your lap: It’s composed of a 36-ounce sliced challah round, 4 pounds of slow-cooked brisket, 12 ounces of brown gravy, 12 slices of Monterey jack and a 24-ounce potato pancake (and serves 8 to 10 people).
60: Minutes in the Godzilla Challenge
Sushi lovers in the Midwest congregate in Cleveland, where Shinto offers them an hour to face Godzilla, a 5-plus-pound, deep-fried roll that rings in at $50. Victory, for those who manage it, is sweet: Godzilla is free if you beat the clock, and Shinto will throw in a $25 gift certificate for your pains. (There are most likely going to be pains after eating 5 pounds of sushi.)
4 or More: Hands Needed to Eat the Big Dawg
Stache International presents Detroit diners with both metabolic and logistical challenges in the form of The Big Dawg, a 2-foot-long sandwich loaded with 3 pounds of house-smoked bologna and topped with American cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. How, exactly, does one lift that thing? Does one lift that thing?
20: Height (in Feet) of LAVO’s Ceiling
Out on the Vegas strip, serious construction goes on indoors as well as outdoors—and the eateries have grown accordingly. It’s a good thing the dining room at LAVO is massive, as its Skyscraper Strawberry Shortcake (a three-layer tower of herbed cake brimming with pounds of fruit, generous helpings of whipped cream and a drizzle of sabo, balsamic vinegar’s sweet progenitor) is a substantial work of dessert architecture.
6: Tortillas Used to Create the Sea Monster
Beachside Restaurant & Seafood Market in Jacksonville, Fla., is its own supplier of ocean-based delicacies, and its grilled burrito showcases five of them (cooked three different ways). “For a monster of the sea,” Josh muses, “this thing is pretty friendly to my taste buds.” Watch out (or maybe clarify some butter) for those claws, Josh.
5: Length (in Feet) of the Ri-Duck-Ulous Banh Mi
If Dolly Parton visited Jacksonville, Fla., and stood next to the baguette in Black Sheep’s Ri-Duck-Ulous Bahn Mi, it would be as tall as she is (before heels and hairdressing, of course). “It’s not just huge,” Josh says of the spectacular sandwich. “It’s huge with flavor.”
22: Diameter (in Inches) of the Cinnamonster
The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli's 12-pound, bacon-topped cinnamon roll might seem like an impractical breakfast choice, but consider this: If you find yourself with a flat in Columbia, S.C., and the local auto shops aren't open yet, this gooey giant is at least as large as most tires. We haven't officially tested one as a spare, but we've got a good feeling about it.
16: Depth (in Inches) of the Platos de los Muertos
Beetle House feeds New York’s love affair with “all things dark and lovely”—consider the city’s annual Halloween parade, which attracts more than 50,000 revelers—by filling a skull-shaped bowl with rice, scallops, shrimps, clams, veggies, pasta and a whole octopus.
4: Varieties of Meat in The Triple Brady Bacon Burger
At a venue called Porkopolis, it goes without saying that a dish like The Triple Brady Bacon Burger (named for owner Brady Bogen, whose ancestor nicknamed Cincinnati “Porkopolis” back in 1830) will be densely populated with meat. True to its nomenclature, the TBBB is a 14-inch-high stack of three beef patties blended with ground bacon and piled with pulled pork and bacon strips.
14: Weight (in Pounds) of the Festival of Heights
The General Muir in Atlanta celebrates Hanukkah with eight days’ worth of eats. Its huge, scratch-made potato latke platter is piled to the sky with pastrami, cheese curds and schmaltz chicken gravy.
2: Adults who Could Shelter in the Monster Muffaletta on a Cold Night in Louisiana
Temperatures in Baton Rouge don’t dip much lower than around 60 degrees, but the Monster Muffaletta at Fat Cow Burgers strikes us as a fine place to cozy up if the weather turned nasty (à la Luke Skywalker in his tauntaun on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back). Happily, the Monster Muffuletta smells much better than the inside of a tauntaun: It hold 10 pounds of salami, ham, fresh mozzarella, provolone and Swiss cheese.
75: Cost (in dollars) of the Piecaken
The meat-geode known as the turducken has long been the most notorious hybrid food served up at Thanksgiving, but the dessert table is fighting back. The PieCaken Shop in New York City whips up its signature dish by using cinnamon buttercream frosting to unite a pecan pie, a pumpkin pie and an apple upside-down cake. “Why choose one dessert,” as they put it, “when you can have them all?” It’s available for pick-up at David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, so you can grab a pair of elastic-waisted pants at the same time.