Food Spotlight | Fenton’s Challenge: The Story Behind the Feat

I didn’t set out to do the challenge at Fenton’s. Really. Why would I even think, let alone attempt, the consumption of over 1700 calories of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and banana? Why would I suffer the repercussions and screw up my stomach over some lousy t-shirt?

All I wanted was a scoop of ice cream, maybe a small sundae, at the most. I wanted to enjoy my ice cream, not down several pounds of it in a fifteen-minute span. So why did I do it?

Because of pride, pure and simple. When eight other people in your group are all in on this, and you know you are wholly capable of doing it, then you just have to take the leap.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning. Tonight was the first ABA Cabinet Bonding of the year. We headed out at 10pm, arrived at Fenton’s, and took our seats. Three to four people were set to do the challenge.

However, due to the excellent persuasion skills of Linda, a few more people decided to join, including yours truly. Our final count of Fenton’s Challenge participants grew to nine.

We waited in earnest anticipation as the sundaes were being made. Tips on how to finish filled the air – swirl your mouth with hot water, use two spoons, one for each hand, take your time, plow through it.

After a quick session of mental preparation, we were ready. The famous “Banana Special” began to arrive en masse. The waiter explained all the rules (must finish everything on the bowl and plate, no puking, no hiding uneaten ice cream).

And we began.

My feelings bordered the lines of nervousness and earnestness. Took the first bite. No problem. And the bites continued to come.

I chipped away at the colossal beast of a sundae, and gradually, very gradually, it began to shrink. First came to chocolate. Then the strawberry. Halfway through, I experienced a wave of nausea, but I continued to fight through.

After about eight minutes or so, I was on the vanilla and banana portion. My pace was slowing, but it was fine, because I still had plenty of time.

The toughest part of the entire challenge was the final stretch, when I had to finish all the syrup and melted ice cream on the plate beneath the sundae bowl. Gross stuff, but I ate every last bit. I finished with three minutes to spare.

Seven of the nine people who attempted the challenge finished. That’s very impressive. After we got the equally famous yellow “I Survived the Dive” Fenton’s t-shirt, we posed for some pictures, lingered around for a bit to aid the digestive process, and walked out the restaurant, triumphant and with heads held high.

Coming into Berkeley and hearing about the Fenton’s Challenge, I knew that I was going to do it someday. I just didn’t realize that I would do it so early and on impulse. But what better way to stuff your stomach, than with a huge crowd of your friends, encouraging you and cheering you on?

Congrats again to Eric, Steven Hu, Risa, Kevin, Thomas, and Jay (yeah roommates!). We did it!

I survived the dive at

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