Andrew Palacios and Paul Munzenrider stared at the table,
mentally preparing themselves for the task ahead.
With plastic fire hats on, they took a deep breath and shoveled
the first bite of chili into their mouths. Immediately their eyes
filled with water as they struggled to take the next bite.
Palacios and Munzenrider were among the 130 participants at the
second annual Residence Hall Chili Challenge last week. Each day,
students gathered at the Corbett Hall dining hall to test their
taste endurance for spicy chili.
To complete the challenge and win the “I Survived the Chili
Challenge” T-shirt, students had to finish an 8-ounce bowl of chili
that was progressively hotter each day, with only one bottle of
water to drink. On the last day, participants also had to eat a
habanero pepper, one of the hottest peppers in the world.
Palacios and Munzenrider finished off their portions quickly and
then went to get ice cream.
“My eyes are watering, my nose is running, but I survived,” said
Palacios, a freshman biology major.
Munzenrider, a freshman with a double major in music and
business, said the hottest chili on the last day was intense.
“It was really, really hot. My lips and tongue are still burning
like crazy,” Munzenrider said.
CSU Housing and Dining Services and Poudre Fire Authority hosted
the event to promote Fire Prevention Week.
“It’s a great way to get to meet and mingle with students at a
positive level as opposed to during an emergency,” said Ryan
Thomas, a PFA firefighter. “It’s a good way to bring fire service
and dangers to the front.”
Deon Lategan, director of Residential Dining Services, said the
organizers recruited guest contest judges, including Mayor Ray
Martinez, football head coach Sonny Lubick, athletic director Mark
Driscoll and other high-profile staff members.
“(The challenge) has been very popular,” Lategan said. “We had
quite a few students drop out and some add in late. We even had one
student come in and eat four bowls to make up for the rest of the
Lategan said he thinks the event was more successful than last
year with co-sponsors such as Tabasco and Aquafina. Next year, he
hopes to make the event even larger.
“We’re definitely going to continue this,” Lategan said. “We
hope to collaborate with other areas such as the police department.
It’s a good opportunity to have these departments come in and show
the non-professional side.”
Ken Quintana, director of fire safety at CSU, agreed the event
was a success.
“The students have been great. The firefighters are having fun
and more got to come and visit with the students. All week there’s
been at least two (firefighters),” Quintana said.
While most of the participants thought the chili had a kick,
Harrison Filas, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said he
was expecting it to be worse.
“It started off weak, didn’t get much stronger, and finished off
with a mild boom at best,” Filas said.
He still plans to return next year and joked that he hopes the
chili will be hotter.
“I had a good time,” Filas said. “It was not as bad as I
expected. Next year they should make it an actual challenge,