View from the Cheap Seats

August 11-17, 2014

By William O. “Bill” James, Jr.

Epic fail 

came in contact with pure evil a few weeks ago. I took the “Shut up sauce” challenge at Mean Pig BBQ in Cabot, and I failed. It wasn’t even close. Without question, it was the worst thing I’d ever put in my mouth. I’ve always prided myself on the dubious ability to eat about anything and then keep it down. I found that I had no chance against the sandwich that I can only describe as the devil’s vomit on a bun. It makes me shiver just to think about it. 

I’d been talking about doing this challenge for about six months. I heard about it and then I looked it up on YouTube and watched several videos, including a segment from the show “Man vs. Food.” I studied the videos and was sure I’d figured out the secret to this very simple challenge, which requires only that you eat the sandwich, which is meat slathered with sauce made out of habanero extract, and then keep it down for five minutes. That’s it – nothing more. 

What my research showed was that if you took more than five minutes to eat the sandwich, you were unlikely to finish. I was also surprised to find that the people that took drinks and rested while they ate the lava flavored poison were far less likely to succeed compared to those that ate the sandwich quickly without stopping. The one thing that was clear in every video was the immediate change in expression once the first bite was taken. Every person quickly gained what can only be described as a “thousand yard stare” soon after that first bite. It was obvious there was a physical reaction to all that tried the sandwich, but I still figured I could do it. 

I took the whole family to Cabot. My oldest son, William, was going to take the challenge with me. My youngest, Trevor, couldn’t take the challenge since he was under the age of 18. (Youth never served him so well.) The proprietors told us we shouldn’t do the challenge and even made us sign a release of liability. We sat down to prepare ourselves while we joked about the pictures we would take after we won our free shirts. 

After I put the gloves on to keep from getting the sauce on my hands, I put on sunglasses so the video we were making wouldn’t show the pain I was going through. I wanted to look cool on my way to Mean Pig history. Only 260 or so have completed the challenge while 6,000 have reportedly tried. I was sure I was going to be number 261. Unfortunately, it was not to be. 

The taste and the burn that hit me as soon as I took a bite is really indescribable. I made it about 30 seconds or so into the sandwich when I knew the challenge was over for me. There was no question that if I did eat it all, that there was no way I was going to keep it down for five minutes. I’d only swallowed a couple of bites and they were already looking for a way to exit my stomach. 

I ran directly to the bathroom, which was what the owner told me not to do. You see, they like you to do your puking in the ditch outside. Unfortunately for them, the poison they served me had altered my ability to think or function properly. Eventually, I did end up outside at the ditch and cried and moaned like a baby all the way home. I went straight to bed and only got up as the digestive process required me to do, which was about once every 15 minutes. The burn stayed with me well into the next day.  

The person that told me about the challenge warned me not to do it. He told me when he did it that it was horrible and he truly regretted trying the challenge. He told me that I was making a terrible mistake and it was going to ruin my entire day. He told me I’d regret it with my entire being. I may have told him I wasn’t a wimp and would be fine. I saw him after the challenge and chastised him for not properly warning me as to what I was getting into. 

By the way, William ate the sandwich in less than two minutes and kept it down like a champion. He got a shirt and bragging rights at the James house. I’ve posted the video on my CHEAP SEATS Facebook page for your amusement. Please like my page while you are there. By the way, I secretly wear his shirt when he’s not home. 

I’m truly disappointed I couldn’t complete the challenge. It hurts my man pride. What I do know is there’s no way that I can ever do it, so I don’t have to try again. What I have learned is that, even though you never know what you can do until you try, sometimes, you’re better off not knowing. That’s true for everybody, especially those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is a co-founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little Rock, Conway and Fayetteville, Arkansas. His primary area of practice is criminal defense. He can be contacted at