SEBRING — There seems to be a hobby, sport or challenge for just about anyone who has the drive, courage and stomach to find one.
Last Saturday world renowned food challenger and connoisseur Randy Santel with his stomach ready, stopped by Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works on the Circle in downtown Sebring to take their challenge of downing a huge ice cream sundae in 30 minutes or less. The sundae is appropriately named, “Sebring Super Sundae.”
Daniel and Liz Barber own the shop. They purchase their ice cream from Yoder’s Creamery, an Amish Farm in Sarasota. Besides selling cones and cups of flavor after flavor of the creamy dessert, they sell a variety of hot dogs and over 200 sodas from around the world. They even offer a soda named Moxie. It’s been available since 1884 before Coca Cola was introduced in 1887.
Besides sundaes, customers can enjoy five type of malts, coffee, espresso, lattes and cappuccinos as well as the Sebring Super Sundae. The cost of the sundae is $25. If Randy or anyone of the others joining Santel, scrapped their bowl clean the super sundae was free. There were no other takers Saturday. Only one person, Michael Jenkins to date has won it. Santel would be the second to be named to the shop’s Hall of Fame.
The sundae includes 12 large scoops of ice cream, 2 whole bananas, 2 Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, sprinkles, caramel, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, topped with a waffle cone.
Santel has travelled the world taking on food challenges and he read about ice cream shop owners Daniel & Liz Barber’s ongoing challenge. He called and told them he would be there at noon sharp last Saturday to add to the 100 challenges he accepts every year. If he won, this would be his 931 winning challenge.
A St. Louis native, Santel has won challenges in 50 states and 37 countries. In Freeman, South Dakota he downed a 7.5-pound steak with fires. Cost was $75, but free if he won. He did.
He won a vegetarian contest taking the Dara Singh Thali Challenge in Mumbai, India. In Cavan, Ireland he accomplished a hard boiled egg breakfast. Greenville, S.C. found him eating a $120 meal in one hour thus getting it free. Items included were four meats, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chili, 24 ounces of sausage, grits and more.
Add to the above, a taco, pancake, wings, burgers, all with piles of fixins, hot dog challenges and more. Santel has over 1.5 million followers on YouTube; 1.4 million on Facebook. All of his exploits can be viewed at his site FoodChallenges.com where he posts new ones three days a week. And guess what? He is in very good physical shape. He weights 305 pounds and is muscle bound. He is 34 years old.
This month Santel is traveling Florida. He will be taking on nine challenges in Miami and after the ice cream shop he was headed to Fort Myers to down a six-pound burrito.
The most calories he consumed in one setting was 10,000. Asked if he ever gets sick, he said, “If you don’t get sick you’re not trying hard enough.”
Santel graduated from Missouri State University and worked construction. But in 2010 he won a trip to New Zealand in a body transformation contest. He and a friend then consumed an 11-pound pizza and won another $500. His favorite meals are grilled cheese sandwiches, specialty hot dogs and buffalo wings.
He joins a group of about 20 other food challengers in the world, including his girlfriend Katina Eats Kilos, who joined him in Sebring to help sell his line of promotional items like t-shirts, caps, teddy bears and comic books. They all carry his FC logo.
Santel arrived at the ice cream shop around 11:15 a.m. And he had a following. Like music bands he has groupies. The Gabbard family of four came from Lake Wales, the Godfreys are local groupies, and the Wickham crew came from Port St. Lucie. All of them follow Santel on his YouTube and Facebook site. They all brought cash to purchase Santel’s line of promotional goods. Their hero autographed the items and posed for photo after photo with them.
Besides the groupies, the store was soon filled with curious visitors. People even stood outside to look through the window to observe the festivities.
At noon the challenge began. Santel chose 12 flavors of ice cream. One was the store’s most popular flavor, “Superman.” Others included, Red Velvet, Mint chocolate, Cheese Cake, Cookie Butter Crunch, Cookie Dough and five other flavors.
Store owner Daniel Barber scooped up huge portions, added all the other ingredients and Santel was about ready to take the 30-minute challenge. He had a glass of warm water and chose a bottle of the shop’s famous Brownie Carmel Cream Root Beer as a wash.
He did a short video for his website audience and then made his customary sign of the cross, took a puff or two and the timer went off and the challenge began. He had two spoons available as well as plenty of napkins to wipe his beard from the dripping ice cream.
The audience cheered him on and 10 minutes and 54 seconds later he took his last luscious slurp of the sundae and his bowl was empty. He took a long drink of the tasty root beer, flexed his muscles, gave the crowd a big smile and became the second person to join the Sebring Soda and Ice Cream Works Hall of Fame. It was his 931st free meal!
If you too want to learn more interesting facts about Randy Santel and his most unusual occupation, training regime and schedule you can visit him at Foodchallenges,com. And if you want great creamy ice cream, soda or hot dog treat, stop in at Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works. The Sebring Super Sundae challenge can be yours too for $25 bucks. Free if you win!