15 Hours In Breakfast Purgatory
June 22, 2021 5:21 PM   Subscribe

From the "be careful what you wish for" files: journalist Lee O. Sanderlin suggested a penalty for coming in last in the fantasy football league he participated in - 24 hours in a Waffle House. Which was a lark - up until he wound up being the one sentenced to Waffle Hell.

His league commissioner made him a deal - for every waffle consumed, an hour would be removed from his required time to serve. And so, with the rules set, he live tweeted his time in the Waffle House, and his struggles with the restaurant's namesake foodstuff. Ultimately, he managed to down 9 waffles, resulting in a total of 15 hours in the Waffle House.

Extended stays in a Waffle House previously on the Blue.
posted by NoxAeternum (64 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Twitter pointed out that this was done on January 3rd, as well, by someone much more successful at the challenge and with a happier ending. For some reason, that one failed to gather any traction in the news cycle, however...
posted by miguelcervantes at 5:29 PM on June 22 [13 favorites]


It really is amazing what eating a lot of breakfast food will do to your psyche, apparently.
posted by sagc at 5:35 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Waffle House's social media is nothing fancy but they did have a pretty good response to this.
posted by martin q blank at 6:00 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


It really is amazing what eating a lot of breakfast food will do to your psyche, apparently.

Oof. I quickly hit my Max Desired Breakfast Amount at just 1-2 waffles or pancakes OR (not and) a couple eggs at most - it tends to sit heavy on my stomach, and I need a few hours before I can even get over the "full" feeling, let alone be interested in more food. I can't imagine how miserable I'd be trying to fulfill this challenge. Sea Captain has nothing to fear from me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:18 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


2014 Comedy Central mockumentary show called "Review" (based on an Australian show with the same name) had a host review different life experiences. At the start of one episode he reviews eating 15 pancakes. Then he has to review a pretty personally devastating life experience, which I won't spoil. And then finishes the episode by eating 30 pancakes.
posted by FJT at 6:20 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]




Man, I wish he'd done it a week later. If he's an easy drive from Florence, he can't be that far from family I'll be visiting soon, and that article suffers from a resounding lack of mention of someone coming in and putting any of these tracks on the jukebox.
posted by solotoro at 6:43 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


and that article suffers from a resounding lack of mention of someone coming in and putting any of these tracks on the jukebox.

During his live tweeting, he mentioned the jukebox twice - once when a couple of kids were using it (turned out they had good taste), and near the end of his ordeal, someone decided to use the remote request feature to be a smart ass.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:56 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I RTFA but I still can't tell what specific rules there were. Like honestly a) spending 24 hours chilling with breakfast food and a laptop or a book sounds pretty cool with me and b) why not spend a mostly pleasant 24 hours instead of 15 hours in waffle agony? He was live-tweeting, but was he not allowed to bring a movie or book or anything? Waffle House is not gonna care.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:57 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Good, but no match for Caity Weaver's search for the bottom of TGIFriday's bottomless appetizers.

Truly, one of the best things on the Internet.
posted by Gadarene at 7:09 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


someone coming in and putting any of these tracks on the jukebox

BWUAAH BWUAOOH
"WHAT's NEW PUSSYCAT?”
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:14 PM on June 22 [12 favorites]


any of these tracks on the jukebox.

5. There Are Raisins in My Toast

I read that in Woody's voice in my head.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:15 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, "15 hours in waffle agony" is my new sockpuppet name.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:16 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


That really does sound like hell. Now, if it had been the hash browns…
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:17 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Hash browns of an equivalent mass, I could do. Hash browns of an equivalent volume is terrifying.
posted by sagc at 7:20 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


My WH jam is the egg and cheese on a biscuit. With that biscuit, slightly fried in the butter, with pickles, and a packet of mayo that you know is just so wrong but you have to. You gotta.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:22 PM on June 22


If I lived in an area with waffle house, I am kind of sure I might have enjoyed teleworking from a fully-vaccinated waffle house.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:25 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


One of my few regrets in moving from SE to NW US is that I really miss Awful House. Especially late at night post-gig.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:33 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


This writer from Bon Apetit spent 24 hours working in a Waffle House and it seemed like a pretty decent experience.

So, I don't know, maybe put the crossword puzzle down and sling some hash for a bit and maybe the time would be more enjoyable?
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Jeez- imagine if he had to work there every day for minimum wage.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:44 PM on June 22 [15 favorites]


This reminded me that many years ago on the internet I read a report of a kid who lost a bet and had to spend 24 hours in a Home Depot. He was not allowed to talk to anybody, though he had some cards he handed out that explained his situation. I could not find it with some quick googling, but I'd love to read it again.
posted by bondcliff at 7:50 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I've used the bathroom at a Waffle House before, but I don't remember eating at one. Maybe that is why I feel like I'm missing some cultural touchstone that would let me understand the emotional narrative here.

Why is it so difficult to sit in an air-conditioned space on what are probably more comfortable than airport chairs, with access to a mobile entertainment device? But let's say it is, somehow. Waffles are the way out! Why is this person having such trouble eating waffles? Consuming ridiculous portions of food is pretty much the American way. A waffle every couple hours seems... doable, on an average sized guy's stomach? Yet they seem to be making him ill. Are these waffles made with wood glue, or something? Are they poisoned? Is this something that just makes intuitive sense, provided you don't have binge eating disorder?
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:50 PM on June 22 [10 favorites]


Those waffles are HUGE. Like, dinner plate sized. Way harder to eat than you posit. I can't imagine finishing even two in one day.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:56 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


That said, Waffle House does have unusual bathrooms in this day and age.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:57 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Wait, are Waffle House waffles unusually large? I did not know that. When I’d go it was always the cheesesteak, Texas toast, with jalapeños, and Heinz 57 sauce.
posted by BeeDo at 8:01 PM on June 22




In my teens I'd have been done in an hour. Now I'd have to go the full 24.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:09 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Breakfast is a scam and at the absolute most should be eaten exactly once a week, on Sundays, instead of lunch, and should be of one of the three key varietals of proper human breakfasts: English, Scottish, or Irish*. Vegetarian and vegan substitutions are of course permitted and in fact encouraged if you care to make sure that the contents of your heart-pipes are principally red and white blood cells.

(I don't recall that I have ever had an authentic non-Western breakfast, though I don't doubt that many of those are excellent - adjust my blanket non-serious statement above as necessary.)

*I submit that the "Australian breakfast" should officially be Vegemite on buttered toast, with mashed avocado, chilli flakes, and plenty of S&P, and probably something that is actually Australian unlike all of those things listed, like I guess...finger limes?...but suspect that it would not be considered "rugged" or "matey" or "dinkum" enough.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:18 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I can eat infinite hash browns with cheese. Twice that if on bike tour.
posted by aniola at 8:41 PM on June 22


Not home fries, though. Those are not hash browns.
posted by aniola at 8:41 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


It feels like hell is severely devalued currency these days. Even if he chose to eat no waffles, spending 24 hours in a given building is not a gigantic thing.
posted by JHarris at 9:06 PM on June 22 [8 favorites]


That said, Waffle House does have unusual bathrooms in this day and age.

Hold on. You need to say more.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:28 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Spend 24 hours in a house you have constructed entirely from waffles
posted by oulipian at 9:45 PM on June 22 [8 favorites]


I stopped following this thread because it was leaving a bad taste in my mouth (har har). I did not find it amusing to hear how someone forcefed himself food and then deliberately threw up so that he could eat more of the same food. Food waste for entertainment creeps me out.

I also don't understand how someone can not entertain themselves for an extended period of time (as an alternative to binging and throwing up). I checked the beginning of the thread, and he specifically mentions that he had some books, magazines and podcasts prepared, and he clearly had access to the entire internet.
posted by confluency at 12:43 AM on June 23 [6 favorites]


I think I’m with the folks who are unimpressed by his level of waffle consumption.
posted by atoxyl at 2:22 AM on June 23 [5 favorites]


Clearly an absolute beginning in the competitive eating stakes, I had a close encounter with the indigestibility of cabbage when I lived alone in The City 20+ years ago. My family were living down the country but I only got to eat with them at weekends. Most nights after work I'd go round the corner to the small supermarket and stand in the check-out line with other single professionals getting the makings of dinner for one. It was sad, but at least the people in the line were cooking rather than copping-out with a take-away. One night I bought, going cheap, 500g of value stir-fry mix. This was basically a bucket of shredded cabbage with a token garnish of peppers, mushrooms, carrots and bean-sprouts. After I brought it home, greedy-thrifty me realised that we were going away for the weekend and on Monday I was off to Brussels for work. Ooops! catering error: if I didn't finish the stir-fry that night I may as well throw the stuff away. I don't come from a family that throws food away, so I cooked it all up and chugged it all down.

The blood rushed from my head to deal with the meal and I soon fell into a drooling slumber in the living room chair: it had been a long day. Two hours later, it was full dark but I startled awake with a feeling of unease . . . below. I had a small glass of cold water and waited . . . but finally grabbed a coat and went for a walk along the edge of the local strand. The mass of undigested cabbage was sitting like a so many wood-shavings in my stomach which was clearly overwhelmed. I was reminded of a dramatic moment in the film Far From the Madding Crowd when a farmer relieves one of his cows of a nearly fatal case of 'bloat' by stabbing the beast in the side to release the gas. Youtube “bloat gas trochar
Mais revenons nous a nos choux! The walk, or time, or jumping up and down [before Takeru Kobayashi developed his "shake"] finally developed into a brief sense of nausea before I emptied my stomach over a low wall into some burgher's shrubberies. For this relief, much thanks. I felt better immediately and went home to bovine sleep, without having to call the vet, for what remained of the night. Moral: never eat alone.
posted by BobTheScientist at 3:07 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


a fully-vaccinated waffle house

Does not exist.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:40 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


"Only in the Midwest is overeating still considered an act of heroism." - Jack Nicholson, as told by (and to) Jim Harrison
posted by JohnFromGR at 3:56 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


> A waffle every couple hours seems... doable, on an average sized guy's stomach? Yet they seem to be making him ill. Are these waffles made with wood glue, or something?

> I think I’m with the folks who are unimpressed by his level of waffle consumption.

If this site's "copycat" Waffle Recipe is to be trusted, a single waffle has these ingredients at its core:
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¾ cups of various dairy products
  • 4 tablespoons of butter/shortening
  • ⅓ cup sugar
For comparison, with those same ingredients, you could basically make between 12-15 sugar cookies, which looks like this.

And because that cookie recipe has no dairy, you would have to drink a 1¾ cup combination of whole milk, ½ and ½, and buttermilk with each plate of cookies.

That's one serving. Now multiply that by seven to equal what this guy ate.
posted by jeremias at 6:25 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


The syrup is his undoing. You have to pace yourself with the syrup or your heart is gonna explode. Butter, my dude, for the first 3 waffles at least!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:12 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I think the problem was lack of pacing. He just started trying to power through as many waffles as he could.
If instead you commit to spending at least 12 hours there, then maybe just 1 waffle every couple of hours would be doable.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:25 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Waffle Houses have a smell to me, since they are open 24 hours and have a breakfast fryer going constantly and they aren't very large of a building. I don't even know, breakfast food and really old grease. I couldn't take 24 hours in one. The food isn't good, the booths are not comfortable; the breakfast tunes on the jukebox are the best part.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:32 AM on June 23


Sitting there for 24 hours, you'd really notice how dirty your booth is. For 45 minutes, it's clean enough. But longer than that and you see the details....
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:33 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


If this site's "copycat" Waffle Recipe is to be trusted, a single waffle has these ingredients at its core:

Appears to make 6 "serving size" waffles
Yield:Serves 6 (serving size: 1 waffle)
posted by achrise at 9:36 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Waffle House's waffles are 7" wide.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:00 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Hah!
posted by aniola at 10:33 AM on June 23


I remember doing a pizza hut all you can eat contest with four friends. I ate 23 slices in just about an hour. I did not win.
posted by srboisvert at 10:42 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


The food isn't good
posted by The_Vegetables

Well, I mean, yeah
posted by Ahmad Khani at 10:46 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


But really, everyone should watch this clip of when Anthony Bourdain visited a Waffle House ("better than the French Laundry")
posted by Ahmad Khani at 10:47 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Eldest drove my truck into high water a few nights ago. She was taking the other two to Waffle House after thunder woke all of us at 3 am.

I begged off. It was supposed to be an independent excursion for them, I trusted. The creek was over the bridge and they slid off. I got the call an hour later.

One of the cops said something about female drivers and I went off on him far enough away that all the kids could tell was that I was pissed off.

I wasn't upset at all by the accident. People that have lived here all their life have misjudged that bridge. We went to waffle house anyway.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:32 AM on June 23


Chalk me up as someone who also doesn't get it. The experience is more or less the same as a long flight except you have more leg room and better food. He's obviously allowed to go to the bathroom so that's already better than a lot of jobs I've had.

I can (but should not) eat an entire large pizza so I guess I'd be OK eating 6 giant waffles every four-five hours, but I guess that's less common than I thought. Do they have mint tea? I feel like I can eat basically anything if I can sip a mint tea the whole time. If someone wants to pay me to eat waffles and read a book and sometimes tweet, I would be happy to take you up on that.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:50 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


The classic waffle is 410 calories. 9 of those is 3690, tough for anyone who's not a teenager or an athlete.

Don't underestimate the 24-hour aspect of this, either. It's like a flight, but one where you can't sleep, and it's 4 pm or whatever all over again when you leave.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:03 PM on June 23


Do they have mint tea?

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of people familiar with Waffle House suddenly cried out in LOLs.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:08 PM on June 23 [5 favorites]


(To expand on my above snark, here is a Waffle House menu to give you a clearer idea of what it's all about. Note that "hot tea" refers to black tea only.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:57 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Do they pour it in the cup, or do they just bring you a sad teabag and a cup of hot water? Because if it's hot water, I'm all good to bring my own.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:24 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I love the story that miguelcervantes posted. That guy ate 7 waffles in the first 30 minutes and gave the server a $1,040 tip.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:38 PM on June 23


Do they pour it in the cup, or do they just bring you a sad teabag and a cup of hot water?

Beats me, I always ordered coffee.

Bonus gratuitous joke:
Me: *takes a sip of beverage* Waiter, did you bring me coffee or tea? It tastes like transmission fluid!
Waiter: Then it's coffee; our tea tastes like kerosene.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:57 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I've eaten at a Waffle House exactly twice:

The first time was on Christmas day back in the early oughties, which due to work reasons I had to travel on. After helping out a guy in a Ford Bronco who somehow managed to flip his vehicle on dry pavement, I was starving and started looking for a restaurant or convenience store. Nothing was open, except the Waffle House, somewhere in the middle of North Carolina. When I walked in the lady behind the counter opened with, "Hi hon, all the waffle makers are broken, but everything else is good." I had the biscuits and gravy, and they were, indeed, good, but the place was run down, outright filthy in places (said waffle makers were heavily coated with brown caked on grease, had cinder cones and lahars of batter mounded underneath them from batter overflow, and although she did give the counter a quick wipedown with a damp rag when I sat down, it was still sticky, as was the torn and duct tape repaired vinyl seat.)

The second time, a new Waffle house opened in my area a few years ago, so I thought I'd take a chance, as I really felt like a waffle. As waffles go, it wasn't particularly good, surprising given the name: I'd say that the batter hadn't had any sort of rest cycle, as it had an almost dry, gritty texture, and the only available toppings of margarine and imitation maple syrup with butter flavor left me all the more disappointed. Still, the side of hash browns with gravy was very good, and probably more calories than I needed anyway, even if I didn't finish my waffle.

I have to admit I'm curious about some of their other, less breakfasty meals, but not enough to go back. For now.
posted by Blackanvil at 6:03 PM on June 23


They have (or used to have, at any rate) a cheap but tolerable thin-cut pork chop meal - they only offered well-done, which was no doubt wise given the meat's questionable provenance; but it was thin enough to not be unpleasantly chewy. I never got up the nerve to try their burgers.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:37 PM on June 23


the side of hash browns with gravy was very good

Honestly, to me that's the best/most important part of the Waffle House experience. Pretty much every time I go, the part of my order I actually think about is which of the various ways they prepare their hash browns (or combination thereof) appeals to me that day. The rest is usually eggs over easy and some sausage. I actually don't think I've ever ordered a waffle there.

I don't typically venture to the lunch/dinner side of the menu - usually if I'm at a Waffle House, I'm there because I want to eat breakfast food, no matter the time of day. But I think I remember the patty melt being pretty ok, in a greasy white bread kinda way.
posted by solotoro at 6:34 AM on June 24


This reminded me that many years ago on the internet I read a report of a kid who lost a bet and had to spend 24 hours in a Home Depot.
I spent ten hours with friends in an Ikea in high school while waiting for a car repair. I do wish that I had access to an extra $20 for food. Otherwise, it was actually quite nice. Much nicer than the hot, sun-burny park or the mall across the street.
posted by eotvos at 12:37 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


This reminded me that many years ago on the internet I read a report of a kid who lost a bet and had to spend 24 hours in a Home Depot.

I spent ten hours with friends in an Ikea in high school
SCP-3008
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:45 PM on June 24 [4 favorites]


Ah, Waffle House. I have a distinct memory of an event that was equal parts terrifying and hilarious. My freshman year of college three of my buddies and myself dropped acid for the first time. The trip was glorious and a story for another time, but at the end, after staying up all night, we made a trip to Waffle House for early breakfast. This was about 7 a.m. We get in a booth and are eating our waffles, the trip tapering off but still there, and generally exhausted after a night of probably too much fun.

Guess who comes in the Waffle House for breakfast with our brains all atingle with illicit drugs? That's right, cops.

Three big state troopers come in and take a booth right next to our booth and order food. We're simultaneously trying not to laugh or freak out, and act chill and sober. At least one of my friends almost certainly had some weed on his person, and we probably smelled of the stuff. And we almost certainly *looked* like we were fucked up on something. The cops were definitely checking us out. It was tense.

So we finish our food rather quickly and as casually as we can manage get up, pay, and leave, waiting for the other boot to drop and those troopers to bust us for our druggy ways. But we paid, left, and...went home. Nothing happened. I guess those troopers were more interested in waffles than dealing with our hungover asses.
posted by zardoz at 6:35 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


I guess those troopers were more interested in waffles than dealing with our hungover asses.

In Canada Tim Hortons is generally regarded as neutral ground where criminals don't crime and cops don't cop. Not a rule so much as an understanding that donuts and coffee come first.
posted by srboisvert at 4:44 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


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