Back in 2013, Exeter team's Christmas party saw Engineering Team Leader Matt Slade attempt to display his epic appetite by taking on Harry’s Restaurant’s behemothic dessert – Harry’s Heart Attack – single handedly.

“Two will struggle, one will fail” taunted the gargantuan, frozen monstrosity from the pages of the menu. Refusing to back down and with his ears ringing from the clatter of Harry’s gauntlet having been thrown at his feet, Slade shrugged off the challenge and proceeded to consume the beast as if it were little more than a wafer thin mint. This courageous tale of man vs mountain became the stuff of legend.

One year later and the Exeter team once again descended upon the ice cream amphitheatre. Fuelled by Matt’s legacy and recent questions as to whether or not his appetite was actually all that impressive, two other team members – Marketing Executive Jordan Brown and Engineer Dave Bates – opted to test whether or not the feat was all that impressive. Refusing to have his status challenged, Matt agreed to once again brace the tundra and take on the challenge.

Aware of the task ahead, Bates ordered a lighter menu for the rest of his festive feast – opting for ribs and fishcakes while Brown chose ribs and macaroni cheese. Seemingly undeterred by the task ahead, Slade drank pints of cider and opted for a doughy garlic bread starter followed by the MOAB – the Mother of All Burgers, a 1lb monstrosity rammed with ground beef patties, cheese and bacon.

As Bates and Brown finished their main courses, eyes moved to Slade’s plate where a hefty portion of the MOAB remained discarded like a used tissue - destined to never see the inside of Matt’s stomach. As everybody assumed he was leaving room for the hefty dessert, little was mentioned of his sensible choice to unsubscribe from the meat feast. However, the incumbent champ left his colleagues scraping their jaws off the table as the waitress came around to get the dessert orders.

“I’m not doing it.”

Matt had failed. He was a failure. Not a winner after all. A loser, if you will. Everybody in attendance was thoroughly disappointed and a few diners even had to be deterred from walking out.

contendersNow a two horse race, Brown and Bates were locked into their challenge as they understood that just a single bite of the dessert would be enough to take Slade’s crown. As the minutes ticked on and biliousness set in, the waitress opted not to rush bringing forth the challenge, putting the whole contest into jeopardy as the pair felt the pressure of their preceding courses taking their toll. Finally, the challenge began.

From behind the screen, the gelati-peddling waitress brought forth two fishbowl-sized puddings. Chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, M&Ms, Flake, marshmallows, brownie pieces and whipped cream provided the veritable mountain of food the pair would each have to scale in order to succeed. No sooner did the ice cream dish touch the place mat, Brown was out of the blocks, annihilating the Flake and grabbing his spoon like a culinary Excalibur, he started gulping down the dessert with a ferocity that some spectators would doubt would pay off. Bates conversely decided that it was a marathon, not a sprint and proceeded to steadily make his way through the masterpiece, saving his Flake for last as the spoils of an impending victory. Which tactic would pay off remained a mystery at this stage.

Early on into the contest, Brown struggled to overcome the many marshmallows that were now frozen - becoming energy-sapping balls of glue that mocked their lighter fluffier unfrozen cousins. The brownies proved little challenge for the marketer as he heeded last year’s champion’s grumbles that they’d been the toughest obstacle. Using shrewd tactics, he used his spoon to mine through the ball of dairy and take them down early – keeping an eye out for the jaw-punishing marshmallows, lurking amongst the whipped cream to ambush his momentum. Bates, aimed for more consistency with each bite, spreading out the ingredients throughout the contest. The only challenge facing him was the peanut M&M’s which were heavy, hard and not something of which Bates was a fan. Nevertheless with a champion’s tenacity, Bates ploughed on with aplomb – drinking in not only melted ice cream, but also his fans’ admiration.

After a few minutes, Brown hit the bottom of his glass on one side, however the challenge was far from over. The toppings all but gone, all that remained was a shot-put sized ball of solid ice cream and a few M&M’s. That was when the tide turned. Surprising his spectators without losing pace, Brown snatched his glass of double Disaronno & Coke and poured it’s sickly sweet contents into the bowl. The crowd gasped as he added volume to his challenge as well as a hefty extra dose of saccharine sweetness. A wave of mumbled confusion sped around the table. Brown swiftly grabbed his trusty spoon and started mixing the dessert with the sickly booze to the audible support and cheers of his audience.

“Genius!”

“What a pioneer.”

“Who the hell is Matt Slade?!”

The crowd were stunned as Brown had turned his dessert into a thick alcoholic milkshake. Grabbing his straw, he guzzled down the delicious frosty shake, only stopping to tend to instances of boozy brain-freeze which were quickly shrugged off - garnering even more admiration from the crowd. Before long, the glass was hoisted to Brown's mouth as he swigged the remaining dregs. The receptacle lowered to the table, now as empty as Slade's dreams of retaining his championship. The challenge was over and Brown was victorious as he stood up and snatched Slade’s championship belt from under his very nose declaring himself the new champ and stating that “if you mess with the bully, you’re going to get the horns.”

Undeterred by the victory, Bates continued his honourable effort and hammered through his gargantuan gelato. With only a few bites left, he allowed himself the Flakes and stopped for a little respite. This would ultimately prove his undoing as the scale of what he had eaten was made rapidly apparent. Despite being mere bites away from a silver medal, Dave was done…but he’d still beaten Matt and done so with aplomb.

Brown delivered a humble speech that left previous winner Matt Slade in tears. Slade honourably accepted defeat at the hands of, in the Engineer’s own words, “a much manlier specimen and a true warrior”. The new champion wished the crowd a Merry Christmas and vanished into the December night a noble victor.

History was made.   

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