Deciding whether or not customers are allowed to dunk their challenge food is a very important decision that should not be taken lightly. Whether or not challengers can “dunk” not only affects the challenger, but also all of the customers watching along with the atmosphere around the challenge while it is in progress. The point of dunking food is to make the food soft and moist before even entering the eater’s mouth so that the food can be eaten and swallowed much faster than if he or she had to chew the food enough to be able to swallow like eaters normally do. Almost all dunking involves high carb chewy foods such as hamburger buns, hot dog buns, thick sandwich buns, pizza crusts, and other breads, because they tend to be tougher and more chewy than greasier foods. In step 5 of the design process, you established your “house rules” that customers must follow while taking your food challenge, and a “dunking clause” was one of the rules to decide upon. To help you make the decision whether or not challengers can dunk their food, here are few effects that dunking can trigger:

Dunking makes a mess – It is possible to dunk food in a mannerly fashion that doesn’t make a big mess, but that hardly ever happens. If an eater is dunking, you can typically find food particles all over the dunking cup, and there will also be food particles dropping all over the eater’s area due to the soaked food breaking down as the food is transported from the liquid into the eater’s mouth. There will also eventually be a puddle of the dunking liquid in front of the eater because of the liquid that drips off the food while he or she is eating it. Challengers rarely dunk just enough for 1 bite, and tend to dunk entire pieces at a time which is also messy. If an eater is dunking the food, it is because that person is trying to eat really fast. Eaters that strictly focus on speed eating tend to care very little about making a mess or the environment for others around them, so just be careful.

People dunking will NOT enjoy your food – If you have ever watched the annual 4th of July Hot Dog Contest on ESPN, you watched eaters dunking their hot dogs in liquid so that they can eat faster. They ask the winner many questions, but one question they never ask is whether the food was delicious or not. That is because the food tasted absolutely terrible, just like all other food that is dunked. Any person that says they like the taste of food dunked in water is lying. You may put a lot of time into preparing your challenge and making it taste delicious, but as soon as the eater starts dunking, the eater will not be enjoying the taste of it. If you want the customer to say he or she enjoyed the challenge, then you shouldn’t allow dunking, or at least not provoke them to do it.

Dunking makes it easier to cheat – If you dunk 10 different Oreo cookies in milk, your milk is going to have Oreo particles left in it and the milk will become more of a chocolate color. This is inevitable, and the same thing happens to the food dunked in eating contests and food challenges. When eaters dunk, they typically put the dunking liquid in a big cup that fits their hand, and some eaters use darker liquids like Kool-Aid rather than water. In eating contests, eaters may try to hide food (debris) in their dunking cups in order to get credited for a higher amount. Food challengers may try this too if you are not careful. If you allow dunking, you may want to check their cups at the end to make sure there has been no foul play. At the same time though, since you allowed dunking you need to be ok a few food particles being leftover in the dunking cup. I have heard of a restaurant wanting the eater to drink the dunking cup, trying to avoid paying the $250 prize, even after the eater strained all of the larger particles out. That is the most ridiculous “eating story” I’ve ever heard.

It will be hard for customers to watch – One of the best things about food challenges is that they can become free entertainment for normal customers to watch while dining at your restaurant. Since dunking creates a mess and the food does not look appetizing, the challenge can be hard to watch for customers. If Adam Richman dunked his challenge food on Man v Food, the show never would have even made it to the Travel Channel in the United States. Nobody wants to watch somebody eat like a baby eats cake on its first birthday. If you know that a challenger will be dunking, you will want to put the person in a different area than where normal customers are enjoying their meal. Bread soaked in liquid quickly begins to look just like “throw up” and nobody wants to see that, so think about that before allowing people to dunk your food. It’s just like watching a bloody fight.

Dunking in eating contests is more acceptable than during food challenges because contestants in eating contests are typically further away from the crowd and usually on a stage above the crowd’s eye level. The crowd cannot see all the gross food in front of the eaters. Also, people watching an eating contest are there by choice. Most regular customers do not go to your restaurant expecting to watch a serious food challenge going on. Don’t let them involuntarily be subjected to having to watch a person dunking food and making a mess. If they wanted to see that, they would be at home with their children rather than out at a restaurant. If customers are grossed out while watching a food challenge, you should definitely expect complaints. At the end of the day, the decision is up to you, but you should establish whether dunking is allowed or not in your house rules. If you don’t address the issue, then eaters may just assume that they can. A person dunking challenge food occurs more during speed challenges, and it also tends to happen towards the end of the challenge when an eater is running out of time. To learn even more about dunking, please check out the article Dunking: The Steroids Of Competitive Eating. That will also help you make the final decision, which should not be taken lightly.

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