Humans have always tried to understand infinity. It’s why we go into space. But me? I wanted to see how many chicken nuggets I could eat.
Factors like heat, nugget box delivery frequency and the Coriolis effect may not have made this a totally fair representation of how many nuggets one could eat, but it’s close enough for me.
There were more than 9,900 nuggets consumed Tuesday by 270 adults and 30 children age 10 and younger during the three 50-minute heats, said store manager Chris Darley.
This Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter accounted for 51 of those nuggets (or 1,660 calories) during the 6 p.m. heat, the winner of which crushed 96 nugs — which equates to 3,120 calories.
It was shoulder-to-shoulder in the store. Contestants hovered to grab a table as soon as someone waddled away. The cops came by just to make sure everything stayed alright.
Darley weaved through crowds wearing a purposefully hideous Christmas cow sweater sweeping and checking on people.
Before my heat, Darley and I talked strategy. The rules are: you must finish your eight-count box before getting another, don’t be mean and don’t puke. He’s proud of anyone who can handle 30 nuggets.
Darley said he put the fear of God into his cooks early that night, but there was no helping it: they were overwhelmed. Some competitors complained they weren’t getting nuggets fast enough, but maybe it was Michelle Obama back there saving lives and arteries.
Nevertheless, the kitchen had serious trouble keeping up with demand, which is why my heat was extended by 15 minutes.
Next to me sat Ethan Wilson, a 16-year-old Wheeler High School student. He realized he needed to crowd the kitchen door for nuggets if he had a shot at winning.
“They were taking too long,” he said. Still, he wolfed 80 nuggets.
Afterward, he looked wounded. “I’m, like, woozy.”
Lucas Gomes won the 5 p.m. heat with 96 nuggets. Gomes, 17, also attends Wheeler about a mile from the store.
Gomes said he thought he’d do 50 or 60. What was his strategy? “I just went for as many as I could.”
The adult winner of the 7 p.m. heat somehow wolfed 104 nuggets and the child winner of that heat ate 48. (I missed that heat because I needed to get home after my own deathmatch.)
This Chick-fil-A is all about fun: Check out their holiday light show from last season
Sad you missed it? Don’t worry. Darley says they plan to do an all-you-can-eat contest of Chick-N-Minis during Winter Break. I may have a dentist appointment that day.
Like any tribulation, I learned so much. Here’s what I think you should do to increase your chances of winning:
• Shed layers - It may be cold outside, but your stomach will be a burning cauldron of digestion.
• Use water but sparingly - The amount of nuggets I ate amounted to 6,250 mg of sodium. My mouth hurt. Tiny sips of water helped keep me going without ballooning my belly.
• Location, location, location - Those who sat near the kitchen door got nugs first. Runners were swarmed by meat-craving monsters, so they threw boxes to the first people they could and ran, leaving folks in the back wanting.
• Knife and fork - The nuggets were coming out fresh, which is great, but they were piping hot. I tore them with my fingers to let steam out, but I wished I’d used utensils. You may look weird, but don’t let people judge you for doing what it takes to be great.
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