As a restaurant owner, first ask yourself, "Would I eat 4-7lbs of food, stuffing myself to the point of discomfort, knowing that I would not get anything for it in return?" Be honest... your answer is NO!! Well then why would any of your customers do it? If you want a successful challenge, you HAVE TO have good prizes. First things first, "bragging rights" and getting your picture up on the "wall of fame" are not real prizes. To be honest, neither is a "certificate of achievement." If you are going to give a certificate, at least make it look cool, and please frame it. Nobody is actually going to spend the time to get a frame to hang it up, unless the challenge is really famous & well-known. If the challenge is not big enough that you should give it for free, AT LEAST award a t-shirt.
Receiving a cool t-shirt can be fun, and people may actually wear it, giving your restaurant additional advertising. If a challenge is 4.5lbs or above, it should be awarded as free if completed. 4lbs or under, its ok if you don't give it for free, but you need good prizes!! Anything over 4lbs is going to have a fairly low success rate, so don't worry about a lot of people winning unless your challenge is a burrito which is easier to eat. Some restaurants that don't award the challenge as free award gift certificates to the restaurant. The challenge may cost $20 to order, but if you win you get a $20 gift certificate so that you can return later, which brings more business because he or she will more than likely bring friends along when he or she returns. For challenges over 6lbs, you should award the meal free along with a t-shirt and additional prize. The best options are either additional gift certificates or CASH!! Everybody loves money!!
With a challenge over 5.5lbs, the success rate is going to be extremely low, but it all depends on your comfort level. The original & smartest restaurant to offer a cash prize is Pointer's Pizza
in St. Louis, Missouri. They have the big 28" Pointersaurus Pizza Challenge
which is a 10-11lb pizza. A team of 2 people have 1 hour to finish the pizza. Winning teams receive the $50 pizza free along with $500 cash!! The challenge started back in 2001. One team attempts the challenge per day from Monday through Saturday. That means that about 5-6 teams per week have been attempting the challenge since 2001, each paying $50 for the challenge. Only 23 teams have defeated the challenge since it started. The restaurant has payed out $11,500 plus the cost of the pizzas which are given free to winners, but try adding up how much they have made overall!!
In addition to that, Pointer's Pizza
has gotten on both the Food Network and the Travel Channel, and people from all over the nation have come to try the challenge. To look on their website to see the names and locations of the winners, click here
. In addition to all that, there have been many YouTube videos
created about teams attempting the challenge, which offers even more advertising!! When you offer a cash prize, people are more willing to travel to attempt your challenge because they know that their gas money will be reimbursed if they win. As an example, I have traveled many miles to multiple challenges that offer cash prizes: The Big 10 Pounder
at Monroe County Pizza
in Bloomington, Indiana, The 28" Monster Pizza
at Polito's Pizza
in La Crosse, Wisconsin, & The 30" Pizza Challenge
at Randy's Premier Pizza
in Oakdale, Minnesota.
Big 6.5lb challenges should not be just free, and thats why nobody ever attempts the ones that are. Here are some other prize options:
► Naming rights- This is a fun option. Let the person with the record quantity or record time name the challenge (as long as the name is appropriate!!). This is a very motivating prize for a person to try it!!
► Award a smaller gift certificate or a food item once per month for a year. If you have a pizza challenge, try awarding 1 free pizza per month for a year. Or try awarding a $20-$50 gift certificate per month. Get them to keep coming back for more business!!
► As an example, Surf Dogs in St. Louis, Missouri has a challenge called The Big Kahuna Challenge
. They served 14 specialty hot dogs on the menu. The challenge is to eat the first 10 items in less than 30 minutes. They had an additional challenge that if you can eat all 14 specialty dogs, you can name and create a 15th specialty dog!! I did that, and got to create my own Randy Santel's Atlas Dog
► This is a smart option too. Have the people that lose your challenge contribute towards a "pot" for the next winner. Pizza Haus
in Jefferson City, Missouri has an 18" pizza challenge called The Haus
. If you try & fail the challenge, you pay an additional $5 which goes towards a "pot" for the next winner. By doing this, they have a prize for the challenge but never have had to payout any of their own money. Over 90 people had tried & failed the challenge before I attempted it. I became the first winner, receiving a check for $450
!! Pizza Haus
also did another smart thing... after I won, they did not start the "pot" back at zero. They added their own $150 to it just so that they could keep people attempting it. If they had just started the prize back at zero, the challenge would have went dead and nobody would have attempted it anymore... REALLY SMART!!