Buffalo wing chain Buffalo Wild Wings has something called the “Blazin’ Wing Challenge.” For $12.00, you get a dozen of the chain’s chicken wings, slathered in their signature “Blazin’” sauce, the top end of the heat scale in the Buffalo Wild Wings array of sauces. The challenge? Eat them all, in less than six minutes. Complete the challenge, and you get a tee shirt, and your photo on the wall of fame.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ “Blazin’” sauce weighs in at around 300,000 Scoville units, making it about 60 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper, or about in line with some of the hottest liquefied habanero peppers available. Buffalo Wild Wings treats this sauce with respect, with numerous warning labels (“Keep away from eyes, pets, children,” one sticker exclaims), and cautionary advice from the waitstaff.
But there’s more. After you sign a waiver, absolving the restaurant of responsibility in the event you should begin vomiting uncontrollably, or go blind, there are a few more details to consider. During the six minute challenge, you can’t have anything to drink. You can’t use any dipping sauces, like blue cheese, that would dampen the heat. You can’t use a napkin. You can’t use anything but your mouth to strip meat from the bone. And you can’t touch your face.
With the manager and several staff members watching (not to mention a funny little fellow in a blue tracksuit who, as you can see in the photos above, was very, very interested in the goings-on), I had a bracing shot of Jameson, and began. Things went smoothly until about my sixth wing; the sauce is spicy, for sure, but it doesn’t shut down all of your systems, one at a time, the way I expected. I hit a wall at around my eighth wing; my face turned red, my lips began to swell, and my eyes opened up and began spilling down my cheeks.
With the cheers of the people watching, I pushed on, completing the challenge in 4:06, almost a full two minutes shy of the time limit. Our waitress snapped a photo for the Wall of Fame (encouraging me to make the dreaded mid-thirties “thumbs-up” sign) through a swollen faceful of tears, and gave me a few pints of milk to cool the heat, as the few other patrons who had taken a minute away from their hockey game to watch, wandered back to their respective tables.
After mopping the sauce off my face, slurping a beer, and rolling the milk around in my mouth, I noticed that the sauce had left a chemical burn on my thumb, which you can see in the next-to-last photo. I showed the blister to our waitress, who may have summed up the entire event perfectly, with her response. “Is that from the sauce,” she asked. “Oh, that’s gross.”