This is actually tame compared to the actual challenges.
Man v Food Is an American travelogue show on the Travel Channel.Adam Richman, the host, visits a "City of The Week" and takes on that city's most famous "Food Challenge", often involving a food native to that city. These challenges typically involve one of the following:
Quantity Challenge: Simply the consumption of extreme quantities of a particular food or, in some challenges, a platter of several kinds of food.
Spicy Challenges: almost always includes the Habenero chili. Or occasionally the even hotter Bhut Jolokia (AKA "Ghost Chili", one of the hottest chilis in the world).
Rematch Challenge : Grudge Match Challenge, wherein the host attempts challenges very similar to ones that he had previously lost.
And of course since this is a travelogue show, Act I and, usually, most of Act II are composed of the host visiting other restaurants in the City of the Week. This is done to encourage travel to the City of the Week. Adam goes more in depth on the "travel" side on the show's companion web series, A Side Of City.Note that the correct name of the show is "Man v Food", and not "Man vs. Food".After 4 seasons, Adam has retired from the show, but has a new show called Best Sandwich in America, where he travels to various regions of the US to determine which of 30 sandwiches is the best in the country. As of August 8, 2012, all of the regional champions have been declared, and the finale to determine the best sandwich aired on August 15th. The winner was the roast pork sandwich from Tommy DiNic's Beef and Pork from Philadelphia.Adam is supposed to have a second food related show, titled Man Finds Food as a Spiritual Successor to this series, but it got delayed after he went on an instagram tirade against an anonymous user.
Referenced when Adam went to San Antonio and took on the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" burger challenge at Chunky's Burgers — this involved a 1/2 pound burger that contained ALL of the hot peppers of the world, from jalapeno to the ghost chili pepper that he had to eat in 25 minutes (with a 5 minute "afterburn" waiting period). Up until that point, he had never won a spicy foods challenge containing the ghost chili pepper, and he was very close to giving up on the "Four Horsemen" challenge after just one bite, but once he took the second bite he was able to complete the burger. This was the very first time he defeated his greatest foe and he celebrated accordingly.
Ascended Fanboy - Adam ends up coaching three members of the Harlem Globetrotters for a two pound spicy BBQ sandwich challenge. The ending of the Harlem episode of Man V. Food Nation had Adam receiving a one-of-a-kind #1 Harlem Globetrotters jersey after Adam presented three of its members the Man V. Food Nation belt that they won in their spicy challenge.
Big Eater: Adam, even under normal circumstances. Regular exercise keeps his figure just north of average.
Bittersweet Ending: The Ugly Burger challenge. Food techincally wins as Adam couldn't finish 4 of the 1.5 pound burgers, but he finished enough to earn a 4 by 8 poster on the wall of fame.
The broth in a ramen noodle soup challenge is so spicy, not even the owner, who cooked it for Adam, has ever tried it.
The "Stupid Wings" challenge: In addition to the employees being instructed to actively discourage people from doing it, Adam was required to sign a waiver before starting.
Then there was the sushi challenge which had qualifying rounds just to see if the challenger had any hope of being able to eat the actual challenge roll.
At least one hot wings challenge and one BBQ sandwich had capsaicin extract as an ingredient. Capsaicin being the chemical that makes hot peppers hot, the extract is nothing more than a (forebodingly) dark liquid that has no taste. It's basically nothing more than pure, liquified pain in a bottle.
The phall that required a gas mask to simply cook it comes to mind.
Catch Phrase: "Today, in the battle of [challenge name] at [challenge location]... Today: Man/Food won!"
While the above example is his actual catchphrase, Adam says "This is the one of the best _____(whatever food he's eating) I've ever eaten!" so frequently that it might as well be his catch phrase as well.
Same goes for "This [food item] is so big, it has its own gravitational pull."
On Man v. Food Nation, whenever that episode's challenger fails his/her attempt: "We salute the victorious food."
Consolation World Record: When Adam failed to break the Men's world record in the "Don Juan Taco" challenge, Juan created a new Celebrity record category with Adam as the first record holder.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: You wouldn't know it by looking, but the show has documented quite a few people who look like they could simply not be able to pull off any of these challenges, yet they do.
An example of Truth in Television as many actual competitive eaters are not very big. Particularly Takeru Kobiyashi, who is a legend in the sport.
Curbstomp Battle: Adam's first encounter with the "Suicide Wings." He took one bite, and had to stop. He later came back and won though. Keep in mind that the first attempt was performed before the series started.
Also the "Fire in Your Hole" wing challenge (which featured the Ghost Chili as one of its ingredients) in Sarasota, FL. He only took two bites, but couldn't continue because the damn thing was that hot. It was Adam's only loss in spicy challenges.
Determinator: During the Doughman relay in Durham, North Carolina, Adam twists his ankle while running in his part of the relay. He initially slows to a walk, but later continues running to the tag off the last leg of the race. His team placed 19th out of 59 overall, a respectable position.
Diabolus ex Machina: Adam managed to finish off five giant milkshakes with in the set time, only to lose the challenge when he couldn't keep the shakes down. He had ordered several different milkshakes, which he admitted was what did him in at the end. The challenge gets a Continuity Nod in a later one wherein he has to drink a 6-lb. shake and eat a 1-lb. sandwich, as he decides to just order a giant vanilla shake.
Downer Ending: Food winning - especially when Adam falls just short.
One that stands out is Memphis' "Sasquatch Burger", which was about the size of a spare tire. He got about halfway through it before throwing in the towel.
The "Don Juan Taco" challenge: Adam can set a new record by eating 8 breakfast tacos and there's no time limit. He eats four with no problem, then decides to take a break, taking advantage of the unlimited time. But when he's ready to eat the fifth taco, he can't because he's still full. Realizing that it will be hours before he can finish, he throws in the towel because he doesn't want to take up anyone else's time.
The Great Steak Challenge: Adam had to eat 74 ounces of Steak (5 different varieties) in under an hour. Adam fell short by 2 bites, but the real downer was he ran out of time (he had enough room to eat the remaining meat).
The "Southwestern Exposure" 12-egg omelet: Adam was able to defeat "West Coast Adam" by eating more of the 5 pound, pizza platter-sized feast, but lost the challenge by 2 bites.
Adam earned redemption on a later episode, taking down an even larger omelette.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the "Kodiak Arrest" challenge, a list is shown of ingredients that comprise the challenge as well as the two segments shown prior. Throughout the list are a few of Santa's reindeer.
In one episode, which took place in Texas, Adam visits Round Rock, a city known for its doughnuts. He watches a male cook construct a huge cinnamon roll and makes a wink-wink reference to his "nice buns."
Sometimes, Adam will engage in Lampshade Hanging when another person does this, by saying, "Hey, watch it, this is a family show."
Harder Than Hard: Many of the challenges have a single-digit win total (with a few at no one). None of the contests Adam has faced have a win percentage of over 20%.
New York's Curry challenge plays this trope straight and seemingly subverts it, over 100 people have won the challenge, but thousands have tried and failed.
Hidden Depths: If you saw Adam outside of Man v. Food, you'd think he's the fun-loving guy who loves to take on food challenges. However, he IS a Yale graduate.
Taken Up to Eleven on his knowledge of food. Just watch him on his guest appearance as a judge on Iron Chef America. Still the same Adorkable guy, but he does know his food, high-end or not.
Mundane Made Awesome: For the 190 pound burger challenge (no that's not a typo) in Detroit, Adam recruited help from an entire local football and hockey team's lineups, a local firefighter precinct, a roller derby squad, Mexican lucha libre wrestlers, and a KISS cover band in full makeup
National Stereotypes: To people outside the USA, this show tends to reinforce the idea that a goodly proportion of Americans are morbidly obese waddling gutbuckets. Given that the normal food serving is several times larger than comparable eateries in Europe - even before Adam gets onto the food challenge super-dupa-mega American Excess-style serving, this is not unreasonable. Those Americans trying to challenge the stereotype that most citizens are visibly obese have an extra hill to climb, now that this show is seen widely in Europe.
Over the course of four series, not very surprisingly, Adam visibly porks out. A lot. Just watch a distinctly obese Adam Richman cheerleading in the Brick Lane Curry house (a little bit of Indian Britain exported to the USA?)
Race Against the Clock: Most challenges Adam goes up against are of this variety. Interestingly enough, most challenges he fails to are typically due to running out of time, instead of other factors.
One challenge in particular involved a giant burger sold at a minor-league baseball park that had to be eaten between the seventh-inning stretch and the game's final out (between 12 and 15 outs, depending on if the home team needed to bat in the bottom of the ninth). This meant that Adam didn't know exactly how long he had to finish it since it was how quickly the outs were recorded that determined how much time he had, rather than a clock. He managed to finish it off only because the final batter fouled off an 0-2 pitch.
Schmuck Bait: The spicy challenges. Some have disclaimers warning challengers what a bad idea trying them is.
Shaped Like Itself: Somewhat literally, in the Richmond, VA "Stupid Wing Challenge", the secret ingredient in the "Container of Poor Judgement" is the Stupid Wing sauce left over from all the batches made over the course of the sauce's first day, and left to marinate with the leftovers from each consecutive day afterwards.
Also in Phoenix, Sam Moore of the soul and R&B duo "Sam & Dave" (best known for the song "Soul Man") appeared before Adam took his "Ultimate Sliders Challenge" at Chompie's Deli.
In Atlanta, while stopping by Gladys Knight's soul food restaurant, the lady herself was in, and personally cooked up some chicken and waffles for Adam.
In the "Don Shula 48-oz. Steak Challenge", the man himself appeared in Adam's training segment.
In Des Moines, during Adam's unsuccessful attempt at the Adam Emmeneckernote a former basketball player at the local Drake University, best known for being a three-year walk-on—in other words, not on scholarship—who became the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year as a senior Challenge—a gigantic pork tenderloin, bacon cheeseburger, beef brisket, and buffalo chicken sandwich with a one-pound order of fries on the side—Emmenecker himself stopped by to cheer Richman on.
Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox appeared and jokingly called Yankee fan Adam a bum. He was not there specifically to be a special guest, just stopped by the restaurant for lunch.
In a way, the New York episode where Adam did the "Suicide Six Wings" rematch having then-New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain giving him advice involving how to beat the challenge — "Basically, you wing it." — is kind of a counterpoint to the Boston episode. Which would kind of give this an example of Fridge Brilliance here.
Well-known competitive eater and San Jose native Joey Chestnut participated in the Iguana's Taqueira's "BurritoZilla" challenge when Adam announced that he had a different challenge to cover and asked who amongst the crowd was going to participate in this challenge. Joey ended up beating the 5 pound challenge in 3 minutes and 10 seconds!
A Man V. Food Nation episode had the Lo Cash Cowboys particapting in Nashville's undefeated "Big Roost Challenge". The challenge is still undefeated.
A Man V. Food Nation episode filmed in Key West had Vanilla Ice talking about his enjoyment for the Blue Heaven's key lime pie.
A Man V. Food Nation episode featured Jerry Sags, one half of the legendary tag team The Nasty Boys taking down a spicy ten wing challenge in Tampa, Fl. He had 30 minutes to complete the challenge + enduring 5 minutes of afterburn. He took the wings down in 6 minutes and completed the afterburn like a boss!
A Man V. Food Nation episode had three members of the Harlem Globetrotters (Bull Bullard, Hammer Harrison, and "Slick" Willie Shaw) participating in Harlem's "Squealer Challenge". For this episode, all three of the participating members have to beat the spicy-capsaicin extract BBQ two-pound challenge in 15 minutes and then endure a 5 minute waiting period, or else the challenge would count as a loss. Two of the Harlem Globetrotters finished with over a minute left to go, while the last one (Bull) finished it at the very last second. All three of them ended up succeeding the 5 minute waiting period, with two of the three enduring an extra minute's worth of pain since they had to wait for Bull to finish. Afterwords, they get honored with the Man V. Food Nation belt, while the Harlem Globetrotters end up honoring him with an honorary one-of-a-kind #1 Richman jersey for helping them out.
The Unreveal: In some of Adam's visits, before he takes the challenge, he participates in city-famous food debates such as the 'Ju(i)cy Lucy' in the Twin Cities. After trying both foods, he stands in front of one of the restaurants, and says that his favorite is (cue the noisy truck). He pulls off a similar stunt with regards to the Coney Island hot dog between American and Lafayette.
Up to Eleven: How insane can the non-challenge foods get? Let's see: the "Fried Chicken Eggs-Benedict"? Everything at the California State Fair (including a potato spiral with a hot dog in the middle, and a deep-fried three-Twinkie-on-a-stick)? Cinnamon rolls with their own gravitational pull?
Blimpie's in Ann Arbor, Michigan has burger menu consisting of over a dozen different ingredients, of which three are used per burger. The local university calculated that there are over 2.1 BILLION possible burger combinations.
The Texas-sized donut made at Round Rock Donuts. What do they use to cut those out of the dough? A bucket!
Detroit's Mega Burger restaurant often requires the chefs to cook the burgers in a giant stew pot (Just to keep the shape), and the cooking process for the meat itself takes hours.
From the San Antonio episode, Lulu's Restaurant and Bakery had their chicken fried steak that was bigger than the plate it was served on and a 3-pound cinnamon roll that one frequent customer, not a thin wisp of a man, said would probably constitute four breakfasts for him and his wife. The second restaurant, Big Lou's Pizza, sold normal-sized pizzas but specialized in an encrmous 30-inch pizza that, when ordered as a supreme pizza, contained a plethora of toppings. Adam ate it with the entire Lujan family (the ones who owned Big Lou's), which added up to at least a dozen people.
Adam visits a British-style fish and chip shop in Florida note Many Brits go to Florida as a holday destination: a British chippie would flourish here. To British viewers, even the standard portion is insanely large: we consider one piece of battered fried cod to be a sufficiency. It's our cuisine; we know what we're doing. But eight? On the same plate?
The aforementioned milkshake challenge and the "Carnivore Challenge" 11 pound pizza, currently. The latter had it happen to Adam's challenge partner.
The Louisville episode of Man v. Food Nation had "Burrito Joe" vomit in the 7-and-a-half pound ice cream challenge at local chain The Comfy Cow.
Waxing Lyrical: One episode of Man v. Food Nation featured a pizza filled to the brim with four different chilis (with the habenero being the spiciest). Adam sampled the pizza, then turns to the chef and started quoting rapper DMX.
"Ya'll gonna make me lose my mind. *points to his nose* Up in here. Up in here.