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As a communications major and intern to North Shore Magazine I have mastered the art in writing creatively and describing things to readers through colorful language. Finishing up my last year of college I thought I had aced the world of journalism, not being stumped once on an article, always meeting deadline, and expressing myself through my work. 

Last week my editor Jack asked if I wanted to go take pictures at a local event. Having an interest in photography as well as writing I said sure why not, he told me it was a buffalo wing eating contest and it would be “fun.” I figured it’d be a quick in-and-out shoot with a few people. WellÂ…about 5 hours later I found myself standing in the corner of a restaurant observing pure chaos. I felt as if I was in a reality TV show where a grown man in a pig costume, a female version of chicken little, and three men in ponchos were the stars. By the end of the night I was at a loss of words. I felt like it was a dream, like people could not really be that crazy when it came to buffalo wings. For the first time in four years, I was stumped.  

The event was the hot wing competition held at the Farm Bar and Grille in Essex. Eleven contestants had to battle each other to see who could withstand the hottest of the hot. There were three levels, first was basic hot sauce, nothing too drastic for the contestants but hot enough to make a grown man cry. Round two was jalapeno sauce and finally third was habanera sauce, the hottest pepper in the world. There was no time limit, drinks were endless, and there was a huge fan base cheering everyone on. Almost everything was handed to the contestants all it came down to was who could handle the heat. 

Most of the contestants dressed up and each had their own theme song as they were introduced to the crowd. A man dressed up as a female devil, guys in sombreros, and two pig costumes labeled H1N1 should have been the first sign to me that this was not going to be any normal event. Theme songs from Jaws, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, and Rocky filled the tiny restaurant as Joey Ciaramitaro, the MC for the night, screamed LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE over and over so loud that the veins in his neck were literally popping out and turning purple. I really wanted to give him an ice cold water and towel to prevent his face from overheating but he seemed to be loving every minute of it, and as I looked around everyone was. The restaurant has hosted several bands before, but it was clear that this was the biggest event the tiny bar and grille has seen. It was as if eleven celebrities had shown up to a nightclub, and as the night went on I got the feeling that to everyone at the bar, these contestants were celebrities.

Stephanie Taliadoros was the brave solo female in the contest. She introduced herself by saying, “I’m here to watch everyone lose, I will win,” and then walked away to mentally prepare. I was intrigued by her determination and instantly found who I was going to cheer for. 

Some contestants had agents representing them. Sleazy-E was the agent of almost everyone as he passed out fake twenty dollar bills, he even “made it rain” a few times to show off his fake wealth by showering people with money. He tried to get on my good side so I would take his picture, but I quickly informed him that no amount of twenty’s could make me put together a slideshow of a knock off Eazy-E.

The competition started roughly around 9, and only lasted about half an hour. First round was easy and then one by one the participants started dropping like flies as the heat got hotter. By the end it came down to Big Lar, the reigning champion who wore a tinfoil crown, and Dangerous Dick Low, whose agent carried around a fire extinguisher incase his mouth got too hot. The two men proved they weren’t going to give up and could handle any form of hot. Both were crowned winners, oddly enough these were the two men who did the least amount of trash talking all night. I guess actions do speak louder than words.

Overall the night was interesting and yes, fun. When I called Jack to let him know how it went I tried to describe it, but found myself stuttering and unable to form words, it was like nothing I had ever seen before and I can almost guarantee I will not meet such a diverse group of buffalo lovers again. 

Props to the contestants for torturing their insides and to the owners for welcoming such unique madness to their restaurant.  – Lauren Carelli