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Tenth annual Chili Challenge

October 14, 2012
by Sarah Holkum

Oct. 8-12 students had the opportunity to try five increasingly hot chilies, one each day of the week. Accomplishing this task wins them a T-shirt and the sense of accomplishment that can only come with such a victory.

The Chili Challenge

2012 T-shirt design.“Time to die,” Josh Rice, a freshman Engineering major, said as he was handed a bowl of chili this past Friday, Oct. 12, which was the last day of the tenth annual Corbett Dining Hall Chili Challenge.

An event that is in recognition of Fire Prevention Week where hundreds of students with meal plans can try to finish an 8 ounce bowl of firehouse chili each day for a week, and as the days pass the chili heat increases to quite literally habanero chile proportions.

Known to test a person’s courage, resilience and taste buds against extreme heat, chili challengers came out on the final day to try to eat a habanero pepper and chili that seemed to have been brewed with fire, and pure evil itself.

“They do this all for the glory of a T-shirt and a bottle of hot sauce,” said Amy Parsons, V.P. of University Operations, who was one of many faculty members that came to give out completion prizes to the red faced, tear streaked champions.

This year's competition

This year, the competition area in Corbett Dining Hall was sectioned off with caution tape and featured a streaming picture slideshow of firefighters battling the High Park Fire, as well as a table featuring hot sauce and firefighter equipment, a manequin laying on a strecher with a habanero chile pepper sticking out of his mouth and two silver vats of boiling chili.

As chili challengers filtered in, they were greeted by local Pouder Fire Authority firefighters and faculty members who worked the check in tables and explained that challengers had to present the habanero chile stem in order to receive a T-shirt.  

A task that most chili challengers were overzealously confident about until it was underway.

Shattered confidence

Collin Tewalt, a senior Computer Science major, is feeling the heat as he eats a spoonful of chili.“It’s like a bomb going off in your stomach,” said Collin Tewalt, senior Computer Science major, who ate his chopped up habanero chile pepper before his chili.

Cory Nickell, senior Communications major, seemed to be handling the heat a bit better and when asked why he said, “I fill the habanero up with the chili and eat it that way; it’s a lot better.”

Erik Johnson, freshman History Education major, tried to keep a level head as he said, “It’s more psychological than anything else; at least that’s what I am telling myself.”

Regardless of the technique or the speed at which chili challengers tired to finish, most struggled through this event and some were unable to finish.  

For those competitors there were daily opportunities to receive prizes such as hats and T-shirts that were supplied by sponsors Dave's Hot Sauce, Horsetooth Hot Sauce, Gilberto's Gourmet, U.S. Foods, the Fire Authority of Fort Collins, and Cholula.

At the end of the competition most competitors -- whether they finished or not -- were like Nate Marquez, freshman mechanical engineer major, who could only manage to ask for, “more milk.”