Rise & Nye’s Ice Cream Eating Championship Almost Shot Our Writer

There is a time in a man’s life when he is humbled and reminded that he is nothing but dust and will return to dust. For me, that moment came last Saturday at the second annual Rise & Nye Ice Cream Eating Championship. I signed up full of pride. I love ice cream and I always eat more of it than I should. I could surely eat more than most.

The contest took place outside Rise & Nye’s store on State Street at 11 a.m. Saturday morning during the Sarasota Farmers’ Market peak hours. The rules and regulations were surprisingly elaborate, with 19 detailed do’s and don’ts. It was then that I began to realize that it was more serious than I had first thought.

We had four minutes to eat as much ice cream as possible. Each contestant would receive a six-ounce cup of vanilla ice cream. Once we had finished this cup, we were given another one. I heard that the winner of last year’s contest had completed nine cups, but I wasn’t worried. A friend told me that it feels good to vomit ice cream.

I asked Beaver Shriver, one of the founders of Rise & Nyes, if anyone had ever vomited. He said not yet, but he pointed to a trash can at the end of the table just in case. Then he whispered some advice in my ear: “Squeeze the cup of ice cream to make it less solid and easier to eat.” »

Shriver started competing for fun, but also to raise awareness of Rise & Nye’s mission. “It’s a cafe and an ice cream shop,” Shiver told me, “but sometimes I say it’s a human rights movement in disguise.” The store employs people with intellectual and physical disabilities. “When I was a child, these people were excluded, forgotten, institutionalized and sterilized,” Shriver said.

He pointed to Kelly, one of the store’s baristas, who has Down syndrome. “Kelly has never had a job before,” Shriver said. “But when people come to Rise & Nye’s, she remembers their name and what they like to order. She’s also a competitive ballroom dancer and a two-time cancer survivor. She’s a rock star. »

Shriver wants audiences to know people like Kelly, so that when they see a disabled person on the street, they won’t look away. “We want to end the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion,” he said.

There were 30 ice cream “athletes” competing. I evaluated my rivals. Nobody else had a lot of facial hair, but I had a tactical mustache – I figured I could hide some of the ice in there. I still felt confident that I could at least make the top three. I tried to get into the minds of the competitors around me. “Is anyone else lactose intolerant?” I asked.

Then two cups of vanilla ice cream piled up in front of me and the countdown began: “Five, four, three…” I grabbed my wooden spoon. My plan was to whip the ice cream as much as possible to make it easier to eat. “…Two, one, go!

I ripped off the lid of the ice cream container and did my best to stir the ice cream. I have a piece the size of a golf ball in my mouth. It was too big to swallow, so I had to chew. The people around me were ravenous, shoveling dairy products into their mouths like Hungry Hungry Hippos. I ate faster, abandoning my original plan.

As I chewed the ice cream, I entered a runaway state of sweet pain. My teeth and my brain ached from the cold and I had tears in my eyes. I could barely notice the people around me. After finishing a second cup, I saw that people around had already finished more than five.

At the end of the four minutes, I had barely finished two cups. The winner was the man to my right, Aaron McWhorter, who finished over seven. That’s over 42 ounces. I asked him what his secret was. He said he had sensitive teeth so he just swallowed whole chunks. Rise & Nye’s gave him a t-shirt, a $20 gift card, and a championship belt that he was allowed to wear for a few minutes before having to return it to the store.

About Thomas B. Countryman

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