After writing a post yesterday about Applebee's new all-you-can-eat riblets deal, I stumbled upon an old piece regarding IHOP's similar pancakes deal. One of our old writers had beaten a record for pancakes consumed at the breakfast joint, and I felt a spark of inspiration from that tale. I decided that I would try my own conquest: eating as many of Applebee's riblets as I possibly can.
Despite what my husky build may suggest, I have no experience in competitive eating. However, I feel like I can put an impressive amount of food away, and decided that this deal would be a prime opportunity to put that to the test.
With fellow Foodbeast Peter Pham by my side, I decided to head over to our local Applebee's, brashly confident that I could tear through a bunch of ribs. As the record shows below, my confidence was in for some humbling this particular night.
Pete and I arrive at Applebee's at about the same time and grab a table.
The waitress arrives to take our order. Both of us go for the all-you-can-eat options. Pete settles for chicken tenders, while I go for riblets. To me, tenders are cheap, and I'm not wasting an all-you-can-eat splurge on a daily indulgence for me.
To wash down my barbecue, I opt for Blue Moon, which is just $2 for a glass this month. If I'm taking advantage of one deal, might as well make the most of them all, right? That, and I'm hoping the acidity of the beer will help break down ribs and get me to eat more. This is what happens when a nerd takes on a food challenge, y'all.
Pete reminds me that I should probably set a goal for how many riblets I wanna consume. Thinking that I have a gut comparable to Joey Chestnut's, I boldly proclaim that I'm going to go for a whopping 36 ounces — or over 2 pounds — of riblets.
With beer already in hand, the waitress arrives with our first orders of food. At 12 ounces of pork and a few ounces of fries, this portion is bigger than the rest that'll be coming out. To me, that's fine, since I'm starving right now and the aroma of the barbecue sauce is calling to me.
I immediately dig into the tender, smoky heap of 'cue in front of me. I'm not sure if it's the hunger or the actual flavor, but these were actually some pretty damn good rib pieces considering they're all-you-can-eat.
I think the waitress may be onto what's happening already, as she just dropped off a mountain of napkins at our table for me to use.
I get through the first batch in just 12 minutes, polishing off the fries and side of coleslaw soon afterward.
Off the bat, I can tell the fries are gonna be an issue. They're saltier than Lonzo Ball haters and add a ton of hefty starch to the meal. At least the acidic coleslaw provides a brief respite from their heaviness in my mouth.
While I'm waiting for my second plate full of food to arrive, Pete caves after just one order of tenders, fries, and slaw. Pussy.
My second plate full of ribs and fries arrives. The fries are about the same amount, but you only get half the riblets on each follow-up order, which helps manage timing and pacing. We also get some additional wet wipes, which I definitely needed since this meal was the literal definition of sticky and sweet.
This order of ribs must've come fresh out of the pan, because I almost burned my fingers while devouring them. Still, they were just as unctuous and scrumptious as the first batch, and I was already craving more. Just got some fries to get through first.
The second round of fries goes down with ease. At this point, I've easily consumed over a pound of riblets plus an additional 6-8 ounces of crispy spuds. I'm feeling content, but I think I've still got some room left in the tank. I know that as I'm sipping on my beer for a quick break, my eyes keep drifting over to Pete's fries. I'm literally forcing myself to not reach over and snag a few when he's not looking.
The waitress comes back over and asks if we want to go ahead and order dessert. Guess she wasn't AS onto us as I thought she was. I take the plunge and request a third helping of riblets and fries.
Pete's been trying to come back and nibble at some more food for the past twenty minutes, but he officially throws in the towel at this point. In response to my playful mocking, he says "I just wanted dinner with my friend." I mean, you're getting that too, but show some fight, bro.
Pete goes to his car to grab something as my third helping arrives. This time, the amount of fries actually exceeds the amount of riblets on my plate, making this a tougher portion to tackle. I decide to go for the fries first just to get them out of my mind.
I get through all the fries, but all of their buddies I devoured already are starting to fight back. I can feel my stomach stretching to near its limits, the first signs that I'm getting full. I guess this is what a "food wall" feels like? Doesn't feel pleasant, that's for sure.
But I've still got a couple of riblets to get through, and I'm not gonna give in at the first sign of pain.
...Or maybe I am.
Compared to last time, these ribs are as tough as leather. Maybe they've been sitting around for a minute, I don't know, but I'm definitely not enjoying these as much as the last two platefuls. I'm forcing my way through morsel after morsel of meat at this point, urging myself not to think about the pain but to think about the glory.
I toss down the last clean piece of bone, waving the white flag of surrender as I'm officially stuffed to the gills. In about an hour of eating, I've managed to take down 24 ounces of riblets, plus at least a half pound of fries, for a total of roughly two pounds of food. I feel a bit let down since that's nowhere near what eating legends can consume, but that gets quickly replaced by some immense stomach pains. I quickly pay the tab on my meal and head outside to walk off part of my gluttonous gauntlet.
Turns out that as I was trying to "exercise" the pain away, Pete got a bit of revenge on me by capturing some candid moments of my suffering. It felt as if someone had stuffed a basketball full of rocks in my gut, and all I could do to tough it out was breathe and try to walk it off. This went on for a good 10 minutes or so before I finally recuperated enough to head home.
I'm still in such a daze from my self-imposed riblet challenge that I miss the turn onto the freeway to get home. TWICE. Driving under the influence is a serious problem, folks.
I crawl into bed almost immediately after getting back to my place, hoping that sleep will help the heavy burden in my gut subside. The sweet, porky aromas of ribs from the restaurant clouded my dreams, making me wish I'd never come at the riblets like that.
Looking back, it was definitely naive of me to think I could take on ribs like I was Kobayashi. My eyes definitely got bigger than my stomach that night, and I paid the price.
Despite getting thoroughly humbled, though, I enjoyed the challenge and competitive aspect of taking on an eating challenge for the first time. With some proper training and practice, I may try it again one day, who knows?
In the meantime, I need to recover from this gargantuan rib coma first. I'm still feeling the side effects of it almost an entire day later.