Story by Monika Stasczcak, Contributing writer
From the outside, Burrito Shack seems to be just a small, local Mexican restaurant with a friendly atmosphere. What many people don’t know is that it’s also the home of “The Punisher.”
The Punisher is an eating challenge that has been going on at Burrito Shack ever since Matt Gingles opened the restaurant in 2009 with his father.
It all started with Gingle’s friend, Chance Randolph, claiming he could eat four large burritos. After coming up with rules, the bet was on- in order to complete the challenge, Randolph had to eat three large burritos in 30 minutes, Gingles said.
Randolph completed the challenge, not only winning the bet, but also starting a tradition. On a wall inside the restaurant hangs pictures of everyone that has ever completed the challenge. Along with glory, winners get their meal for free. If a customer wants to take it a step further, they can try to eat four burritos in 40 minutes.
The challenge hasn’t always been called The Punisher. It was renamed two years ago by a champion that managed to eat five burritos in 58 minutes.
“In order for someone else to rename it, even if they do five, they have to beat his time,” Gingles said.
Jeffrey Finley is one of the people who managed to complete both the three and four burrito challenges.
While Finley had prepared for the three burritos challenge, the four burrito challenge was a spontaneous choice, brought on by pressure from his friends. Beating the challenge was an ironic lesson for Finley.
“Eating four burritos was probably the most miserable experience of my life,” Finley said. A sick feeling stuck with him until the next day. As a reward, the Burrito Shack gave him an extra-large shirt for completing the challenge.
“The irony of the gift was that the shirt was too small for me to wear,” said Finley.
He said that his experience was a sign for him to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Finley and his friends set a weight loss goal to reach by New Year’s Eve. If he fails, the punishment is to complete the final step of The Punisher, and eat five burritos.
“Yes, I know,” Finley said. “It’s all rich with irony.”
The challenge has been completed by many people, but never a female. In fact, there was never a girl to even try – until now.
Danielle Williams, freshman from Fulton, Kentucky, attempted to complete the three burritos challenge this week. She was unable to complete it.
“After eating one and a half, I was done; I thought I was going to throw up,” said Williams.
The challenge seems to be easier than it actually is. It seemed completely doable until the burritos were set in front of her, Williams said. She isn’t going to accept the defeat though, and she wants to be the first female winner.
“Now it’s my personal goal to win the burrito challenge,” said Williams.