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When Candace Parker signed with the Chicago Sky last month, the Chicago-area native listed the following four items as her preferred Portillo's order:
Fish sandwich with cheese, jumbo chili cheese dog sans onions, large fries and a chocolate cake shake.
Kevin Kaduk told me he was curious to see if anyone could down Parker's entire order, but feared for his gastrointestinal system too much to try himself.
So he extended the challenge to me, the writer who once tweeted about taking down Adam Shaheen's unique order at Chipotle.
I promptly accepted and made the quest the centerpiece of my Friday night.
(I don't have that much going on these days.)
After a light breakfast (two eggs) and light lunch (packaged ramen), I felt ready to take on what surely would be a challenging meal.
That said, I was not sure how filling until I looked up the calorie count for each item.
- Large Fries (1,000)
- Jumbo Chili Cheese Dog (610)
- Fish Sandwich (550)
- Chocolate Cake Shake (850)
All told, this is a 3,010 calorie meal.
Candace Parker's listed weight is somewhere in the 170-180 zone, which is somewhat compatible with my 160-175.
We're also both from Naperville, so this felt like a fair fight, though I admittedly skipped out on her addition to the order — an extra piece of chocolate cake "for later".
6:45 PM: Between pacing around my apartment all day and 30 minutes on the exercise bike, I'd actually lost this meal's worth of calories by the time I placed the delivery order on Grubhub.
I wanted to have a beer while waiting but was too afraid of any additional caloric intake; had to stay spry.
7:45PM: By the time the items finally made it — using every minute of the full hour estimate (I was on the line with support when I got the arrival call from the delivery driver) — my body was near full woozy shutdown, so the unpacking was quite aggressive.
Chocolate cake shake
Jumbo chili dog
They included the onions, but I scraped in the name of science.
Fish Sandwich (with cheese)
They remembered to add the cheese — onion redemption! Even though this item had the least amount of calories, I found it the most intimidating upon first glance.
I got a bit of a break because they skimped on the fries. This picture was taken after I added back some of the bag fries to the carton.
Portillo's also accidentally included an egg and pepper sandwich in the order, which apparently is a popular meat alternative during Lent. I did not add this to the challenge.
By the time I consolidated all of the items onto one plate, I'd already been attacking the fries as my initial ground and pound strategy.
7:50 PM: The chili dog was the first casualty. This was pretty effortless, as I was damn hungry, but it was nice to get the one item notched. I love a good chili dog — Sonic the Hedgehog for life — but found myself wishing it was regular-sized and not jumbo.
After that, I took on the fish sandwich. Despite being a Portillo's vet, this was my first time ever trying this guy. It reminded me a lot of the Filet-O-Fish at McDonald's, which I haven't had in, like, 15 years. Though the bread and meat look like they pack a strong punch, it ends up being a bit of a paper tiger. The sauce looked gross but paired excellently with the meat.
Following completion of the two main course centerpieces, I felt like a boxer who had taken some body blows he knew he'd be feeling the next day, yet still had the judges on his side to win by decision.
7:58 PM: With the fish sandwich finished, my focus turned to finishing up the last of the fries. Starting to hit physical and emotional wall, I drew inspiration by thinking of competitive eating hero Takeru Kobayashi. Dipping the hotdogs in water seems to help in the Nathan's contests, so I busted out some ketchup (more calories, yay) as a consumption lubricant to help the fries go down.
That helped greatly — but at what cost?
8:00 PM: I finished the fries, just in time for the final boss: Portillo's legendary chocolate cake shake. To clarify, this was the small size — the regular clocks in at an estimated 1,490 calories, so I stayed away.
Though I remember having this a few times in high school, it had definitely been a minute, and, I gotta say... this is one divine and unique item. For any first timers trying Portillo's, it is an absolute must order off a menu full of many other essentials.
As I drank, I tried not to think about the rumored mayonnaise ingredient to keep myself as steady as possible. The real hero of this meal ended up being the metal straw from my bar, which really did the heavy lifting with strong suction fortification in getting the cake pieces out of the cup as I sipped the shake. A plastic straw would've been completely useless.
Now you might ask how I was feeling as I worked through that shake? Well, at some point, I couldn't even look at the food on my wife's plate without getting a little queasy.
With about half the shake to go, I thought I was generally in the clear. But after what felt like the remainder of the beverage, I popped the top, only to see what looked like a solid half piece of cake still sitting at the bottom.
Metal straw to the rescue once again for some professional scraping up the sides. The solid portion was somehow even better than the shake parts of the cake and my body had to be confused at that point. How could something this good in my mouth be pushing it to the brink when downed?
8:08 PM: 100 percent meal completion achieved! Though I planned on boozing while watching the rest of Bulls-Sixers, I couldn't bring myself to drink any alcohol to get through Joel Embiid's 50 piece. I could barely even bring myself to drink water, despite becoming increasingly dehydrated.
In the interest of science, I weighed myself before the meal and clocked in at 157.4 pounds. Afterward, I weighed 161 on the nose.
My main takeaway: This is absolutely not something I would ever do again and am blown away a high school aged Candace Parker ever had this once, let alone regularly. They must have been doing three-a-days over at Naperville Central.
I spent the rest of my night chewing on the occasional ice cube and dreaming of a Sky championship.
Then I ate the extra egg-and-pepper sandwich for breakfast the next morning.
Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor at Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.
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