Let's get atomic: Student takes on Buffalo wing eating contest

My National Buffalo Wing Festival experience


On Saturday at Coca-Cola Field an atomic bomb went off.

No human causalities were reported, although several of my taste buds were set on fire.

The Quaker Steak and Lube Triple Atomic Wing challenge had gotten the best of me.

Because I spent all my cash, buying water was not an option. Frantic, I examined the ground for someone’s leftover drink.

A barrel of melted ice came in view, with an empty bottle a float.

Digging to the bottom of the barrel, I repeatedly drowned my face with the murky water. This process went on for about 15 minutes.

After cooler mouths prevailed, my friends and I began to laugh at how ridiculous we all looked.

You’d think we’d be prepared for the heat wave we were about to experience after signing a waiver, but ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

That was the last of my 10 $1 tickets and the end of my evening.

I couldn’t leave the 13th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival, however, until I signed up for the college wing-eating contest the following day.

As I lined up for the event, I made new friends and heard stories of their wing eating endeavors. I explained how I’ve been grilling wings for several years now and how I was a shoe-in for first place.

What I didn’t realize is I would be competing against a stud from Medaille College who finished 25 wings in five minutes and 45 seconds.

I finished the competition with 17 in eight minutes, one shy away from tying for third place.

The competition consisted of students from Buffalo State, Canisius, Empire State, Northwestern and Rochester Institute of Technology.

One girl told me this was her second time participating, that’s when the butterflies started to kick in.

The promoter cut off our conversation and explained the rules: Eight minutes to finish 25 wings or whoever eats the most in that time frame, wins.

In an instant my new friends became enemies.

I began to clown around on stage, stretching my arms and legs as if I was about to run a 5K marathon, finishing off with the Hulk Hogan signature windmill to pump up the crowd.

I was having a blast, until the competition started.

The promoter counted us down, “Five, four, three, two, one, eat!”

I began to stuff my mouth with medium wings from Sliders Grill and Bar.

You’d think wings taste better when they’re free, but not when you’re trying to cram three down at once. My only option was to drink them down with water, like Danny’s Restaurants’ Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup.

It still amazes me how I didn’t vomit on stage in front of the 50 states and 51 countries represented in attendance.

Once the Medaille student finished, I lost hope and began to enjoy my tray of wings that sat in front of me. I didn’t realize second and third prizes would be awarded.

Upon receiving this information via the promoter screaming, “Keep eating!” I began to pick up the pace again.

But I couldn’t take any of this seriously. Hot sauce ran down my cheeks and was lodged in my nostrils. The roar of the crowd and my friend’s chants from just beyond the stage sent me into an ecstasy of laughter. I was having the time of my life.

I was high off hot sauce.

The crowd began to countdown the remaining seconds and the competition was over. The gentleman to my right finished off 18 wings, good enough for third. I was very displeased with my lackluster performance.

But as every wing connoisseur knows, there’s always room to improve his or her wing eating skills.

And you better believe I will be hitting the deep fryers and grills this summer, training to be the best.

Look out for Andy Koniuch at the 2015 National Buffalo Wing Festival.

email: andy.koniuch@ubspectrum.com