YUCCA VALLEY — Having some fun (well, they said it was fun) with December doomsday predictions, Naader Reda and John Rivera tackled an apocalyptic amount of food at the 7-11 convenience store last month.
Reda, from Yucca Valley, and Rivera, who lives in Joshua Tree, called it the Doomsday Eating Challenge. “We’ve survived the apocalypse and the only place we can find is 7-11,” Reda intoned for his smartphone video.
Reda and Rivera are both competitive eaters whose pictures are displayed on the walls of restaurants. They’ve packed away a 10-pound barbecue cheeseburger pizza at Agua Caliente, and Reda recently took on a team pizza-eating challenge solo. But plowing through the full magnitude of the 7-11 menu could have been their undoing.
“That’s actually a lot of food,” Reda said as store owner Shawn Chaudhry brought out tray after tray of fried meats and cheeses. Was that a quaver in his voice?
Each man faced a meal of one pizza, two small hot dogs, two quarter-pound hot dogs, two spicy jumbo hot dogs, two cheeseburger dogs, five Buffalo wings, two chicken tenders, four jalapeño cheese taquitos, two steak and jack cheese taquitos, two turkey, sausage and cheese taquitos, four Monterey Jack taquitos, two Buffalo chicken taquitos, two taco and cheese taquitos, two corn dog rollers, one vegetable egg roll, one pork egg roll and four mini tacos.
Let the eating begin.
Five minutes into the competition, both men had eaten half a pizza and some of the fried food. Things were looking good. Literally. “These wings are good,” Rivera mumbled as he amassed a pile of bones.
A half-hour later, Rivera was having second thoughts about the apocalypse. “This is a lot of food,” he told his wife.
About an hour after he plowed into his first pizza slice, Reda was polishing off the last bites of his meal. Rivera couldn’t eat anymore, leaving some scraps on the counter.
To celebrate, they decided to cleanse their pallets with a cream-filled donut — on the house.
“That was awesome,” Rivera reflected before they headed out into the night.
On Dec. 21, the pair was at it again, combining their talents to eat seven meals in 14 minutes and 24 seconds at the Palm Springs IHOP. The restaurant chain was offering a special menu with seven meals for $7 each, and Reda and Rivera apparently read that as a challenge. Total calorie intake: 3,600 per person.