Despite flurries and the occasional avalanche of sticky snow off the eaves, the Stacked High Deli of downtown Park Rapids held its “Oofdah Challenge” sandwich eating contest Oct. 22 on the sidewalk out front.
“It’s mostly just to do something positive, something stupid,” said deli co-owner Al Kurth. “We’re all about stupid and positive.”
Four food athletes representing local businesses competed to see who could finish the deli’s gigantic Oofdah Stacker, a pickle spear, a cookie, coleslaw, potato chips and a drink.
“The purpose here is just to see how much you can eat,” said Kurth, describing it as a timed event in which the first person to finish everything on their tray, including at least the first cup of their drink, would receive a $50 gift card while the business they represent would get a platter serving 12 people.
“We’ll deliver it and everything,” he said. “Everybody who finishes the sandwich will get a $10 gift card.”
The winner’s name and that of their business will be put on a plaque to hang on the deli’s wall, Kurth added. Gift cards from a couple other businesses were also included in the prize packages.
Contestants included Justin Clack with Coldwell Banker Clack & Dennis Real Estate, Luke Carter from Carter’s Red Wagon Farm, Jesse Engst from Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, and Stacked High employee Kayla Markham, filling in for a fourth contestant who didn’t show up.
“If you don’t finish, you go home with nothing but a tummy ache,” Kurth told them.
Each of the competitors had a cheering section, with co-owner Jerry Kurth timing the event and Al alternately calling out encouragement and trash talk, on behalf of those who had their mouths too full to talk.
“The Oofdah is five meats, roughly eight ounces of each,” he said. “Five meats, five cheeses, three slices of caraway bread, panini pressed, with lettuce, tomato, pickle, smothered in chili and our Philly cheese sauce; cole slaw, a cookie, chips and a beverage.”
As served to the four challengers, the sandwiches contained precise and equal weights of all the ingredients – two pounds of meat, eight ounces of chili, three ounces of Philly cheese sauce and about an ounce-and-a-half of shredded Cheddar. All told, it weighs between two-and-a-half and three pounds.
“It’s a beast,” said Kurth. “But the good thing is, it all tastes good. It’s not just something that we put out there stupid, like a hot chili challenge. …We don’t do anything just to look good. It’s all about taste.”
That monster sandwich isn’t just a one-time stunt, however. “It’s on the menu, $20 apiece,” said Kurth. “We actually sell two or three a day. It’s gotten to be pretty popular.”
He said they came up with the Oofdah “because everybody wanted something bigger. So, we’ve progressively gotten bigger and bigger.”
Nevertheless, most people don’t eat the stacker in one sitting. “They’ll eat half of it and take the other half home for later,” said Kurth. “It’s about a week’s worth of lunches!”
“Maybe they should pray before they begin,” a deli employee hinted as Jerry put the final touches on the sandwiches.
“I don’t think prayer is going to be enough for this,” Al quipped.
In final results, Carter placed first with a time of 14 minutes, 4.71 seconds. Clack and Engst finished within a fraction of a second of each other for second and third, at 15’51.02” and 15’51.88” respectively. Markham did not finish.
“I’m going home for a nap,” she said.