Students get fill at 'Fear Factor' eating contest
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Oct. 21, 2011
Celebrating the national 'Lights on After School' rally, Vernon Center Middle School's 'Above and Beyond' progam had students participate in a three-part contest – including an academic trivia competition, a mud-digging search for prizes and the ever-popular 'Fear Factor'-style eating challenges.
After the teams answered 30 questions based on their school curriculum in science, math, geography and other subjects, program coodinator Sherri Romie said the academic portion of the competition forced the students to work together, since the questions were on subjects from across the three (6, 7 and 8) grade levels.
The competition then moved outside, where teammates took turns plunging their hands into buckets of mud (and leaves and pine needles) to find the most toy treasures.
Then the real fun began, as the students competed by eating concoctions prepared by school counselor Kent Batchelder. One such culinary delight was named 'human pet food,' and was comprised of corned beef hash, pickled beets, refried beans, Spaghetti-O's and Cocoa Puffs.
“For pets, you really have to have a little mix of dry and wet,” Batchelder said.
Some students, including Ahsan, 14, added hot sauce to the mix, which may have helped or hurt digesting the chow, depending on one's point of view.
Another creation was the 'phantom fingers,' which were hollowed-out Twinkies, re-stuffed with sauerkraut and topped with ketchup. 'Rancid roach bites' were actually prunes, stuffed with blue cheese and pimentos. 'X-marks-the-spot' consisted of Vienna sausages topped with marmite (the British version of vegemite) and encased in lemon jello.
While some students were understandably hesitant or remorseful about eating the items, others downed them with vigor, including Josh, 13, an eighth-grader, who asked for extra spoonfuls of marmite. “I just like it,” he said.
“The kids were really excited about this,” Romie said. “They ate more than I've ever seen them eat in previous years.
Romie said the eating contest and the annual event itself may be a contributing factor in the program's popularity, which currently sees 47 students attend after school, and has a waiting list for families wishing to take part.