Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Atacolypse

I love the smell of tacos in the morning.

Five contenders. All-you-can-eat tacos at Thirsty’s Cantina. One sweet championship belt. The Atacolypse went down last week, and it was not pretty.

It all started as an offhanded challenge to my co-worker Josh that I could eat more of the street tacos at Rico’s Tacos Lupe than him, but the battle quickly escalated. Scot, Leisha and Erick wanted in on the action, and we set the date for Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

Somehow The Atacolypse also became a fundraiser. With all proceeds going to Japan, people in our office generously pledged anywhere from five cents to $2 per taco eaten by their favorite contender.

The irony of tacos for Japan was not lost on us, either. If something happened to Mexico before The Atacolypse -- for example, a Godzilla attack -- clearly we’d need to have a sushi-off to restore the balance.

For logistical reasons, we switched venues to Thirsty’s where the Tuesday special is all-you-can-eat tacos for $5.99 with drink purchase. Plus, we really like Rico’s tacos. If there was a chance The Atacolypse would ruin any restaurant’s tacos for us forever, we couldn’t take the risk of those tacos being Rico’s.

The big day arrived, and quite a few of our officemates caravanned to Thirsty’s to witness The Atacolypse. We five contenders donned bibs emblazoned with the names of our sponsors...

...and when our server delivered our first baskets of tacos, we wasted no time getting down to business.

As I focused on finishing my first taco, all I could hear was simultaneous amazement and horror from the spectators -- Erick had dominated three tacos in under two minutes.

It was an impressive feat, considering these aren’t small tacos. They’re fried and greasy, and at least for the first five or six, they’re tasty enough. Your first basket comes with three tacos, along with rice and beans, although we weren’t required to eat those for The Atacolypse. After that, Thirsty’s brings you tacos two at a time, sans sides.

Leisha threw in the towel after seven, while Scot struggled through 11. I managed to take down 10 with little effort, but about midway through 11, things were getting iffy. It was all I could do to finish a dozen total, and that’s where I gave out and ordered a refreshing post-competition Natural Light draw. (Speaking of the beers at Thirsty’s, I think it’s a bold move for any place in KC to not serve Boulevard and offer Schlafly as an alternative in its place.)

Meanwhile, Josh was showing no visible signs of taco fatigue. Having said during taco #12 that he just wanted to get through taco #13, Josh was now practicing the “One More” strategy, in which after finishing each taco he collected himself and found his happy place before calmly intoning he wanted to get through “One More.” Thirteen became 14, 14 became 15, and so forth. Erick, however, was still maintaining inhuman speed powering through taco upon taco.

Finally, Josh was done after taco #17, and Erick ate his eighteenth taco to cement his victory -- yet declined to keep going for the house record of 23.

All told, The Atacolypse raised around $500 for Japan. Thanks to our co-workers that pledged money, came out to watch and helped make The Atacoplypse a success. Thanks also to Josh for the main image and Erin and T.J. for the pictures of the event. Another round of big big super thanks to T.J. as well for his work on customizing the belt, which was itself donated by Leisha.

And again, congratulations Erick! You’re the best around.

Thirsty's Cantina:
529 Walnut Street | Kansas City, MO 64106
Thirsty's Cantina on Urbanspoon

Contender composite by Shaw.