If you think back to the good old days of 2008-2012 you might automatically think of the first term of then American President Barack Obama, but the reality is that there was one man that was more famous than even the first African American President of all-time (depending on your views of President Taft) and that was Adam Richman, the host of Man vs. Food, a highly popular television show from the Travel Channel. That show followed Richman as he went from State to State, attempting to finish gigantic meal after gigantic meal and while the show disappeared in 2012, the legend of Richman still lives on. There’s a lot to that show that people didn’t and still don’t realize and so we thought we’d delve into the Top 10 things you didn’t know about Man vs. Food and Adam Richman himself!
10. That Was Adam in Shape!
Or at least the best possible shape he could’ve been in considering his job forced him to eat enough calories to keep the sun burning for another billion years every week. If you see Adam Richman now you might not recognize him as he’s dropped a ton of weight and is basically the size of most of the meals he had to eat on the show. The reality is that Richman actually forced himself to work out twice a day during the Man vs. Food years just to maintain the pudgy physicality that everyone fell in love with from 2008 to 2012. Despite the fact that he was working out twice a day he still ended up gaining a copious amount of weight while he was on the show, something that actually ended up putting him in a state of depression that was also based on the fact that he was single during the taping of the show (something that he blamed on his weight, which is really a self-fulfilling prophecy). In an interview with People magazine after he dropped an astounding 60-pounds, Richman described how once he reached a point where he had sleep apnea from his weight gain he decided enough was enough and retired from competitive eating (and the show itself). That change came randomly, as Richman saw his reflection in a mirror and thought that he was the size of a “Smart Car”, so he cut out flour and dairy from his diet and decided to throw out his favorite snacks like peanut butter and ice cream (presumably a bathtub full of both). The man best known for eating massive meals actually switched to eating tiny meals, lots of them, to reboot the metabolism that was destroyed by the show. That means that he was eating 150-calorie meals every two hours, which for a man who’d fast the day before a challenge, was clearly a gigantic change. Clearly, it worked as Richman eventually bared it all for a centerfold shoot with Cosmo.
9. Adam Richman Went in Prepared
As you’ll learn later in this list (with our number one entry), the host of Man vs. Food, Adam Richman, wasn’t a competitive eater before he started what became the first competitive eating show, or at least the first competitive eating show that had one host traveling the United States and attempting to best the legendary meals that different restaurants and diners had to offer. Because of his inexperience with competitive eating (and his high-level intelligence as was evident by the fact that he went to Yale), Richman consulted with doctors before he started the show, a move that foreshadowed his early retirement from the show as well. In a live chat with ESPN Richman explained this move, saying:
“I went to specialists ahead of time because I wanted to start with a baseline of good health, versus correcting bad health down the road.”
Despite all that work (and the work he did according to the previous entry on this list), Richman still ended up gaining an inordinate amount of weight, developing health problems like sleep apnea and depression and eventually had to give up the show that made him famous after only four seasons.
8. Richman’s Ridiculous Preparation During the Season
When watching Man vs. Food, you’d think that the only prep that went into each episode/food gorging was Richman skipping breakfast and loosening his belt. It turns out that there was a lot more that went into it, something that dominated Richman’s life and despite what would seem like something that’d balance out the number of calories Richman consumed perhaps ended up being one of the main contributors to Richman’s weight gain, depression and eventual retirement from the show. When discussing how he prepared from each show Richman said: “If I do have a day off I don’t eat, or eat very minimally, and I drink a lot of water and club soda to keep my stomach stretched and full and to keep myself hydrated”. That means that during the filming season, Richman’s entire life was dictated by the show and his upcoming contest/episode. As was alluded to in the first entry on this list as well, Richman actually worked out like crazy while filming not only to attempt to work off all the tens of thousands of calories he was consuming at each sitting but also because by working out he’d increase his appetite. Richman concluded, “The most important aspect is that I work out like a beast. I work out like a beast the night before and the morning of”, so those workouts served a dual purpose and again shows how much the show dominated his life.
7. Richman’s Favorite Meal(s)
There’s no better way to really get information from celebrities these days than Reddit’s AMA from the /u/iAMA sub (AMA stands for Ask Me Anything). With thousands of people both asking questions and decided which of those questions should get the most attention (and hopefully then, an answer from whichever celebrity is participating/plugging something… Unless that celebrity is Woody Harrelson who really just wanted to talk about RAMPART!)Richman participated in an AMA in 2015 and was asked which contest was his favorite and which was his least favorite. Richman admitted that (Spoiler Alert) he preferred some contests to others with the Kodiak Arrest contest at the Humpy’s Alaskan Ale House, which he mentioned was his favorite. According to Humpy’s website, the Kodiak Arrest challenge doesn’t have bear meat in it, but rather has every other food that Alaska is known for. The challenge includes seven crab nuggets, 14 inches of reindeer sausage, three pounds of Alaskan king crab, different side dishes like cole slaw, Humpy’s “famous” wild berry crisp and ice cream. The website lists the record, which is held by someone who is most likely dead by now in Jeffrey C. who completed that challenge in 12 minutes and 10 seconds, which is about the amount of time he remained living after completing that challenge. If you live in Alaska or are planning to visit, make sure to pack your credit card as this challenge runs a cool $179.99 and should you finish that meal in an hour or less, you’ll end up in their winners hall of fame, a “I got crabs at Humpy’s” T-shirt and if you happen to beat Jefory C, you’ll get that meal for free (the cost of your angioplasty and stomach pumping falls on you, though).
6. His Least Favorite Challenge
Richman’s least favorite challenge may surprise you, not because he failed it, he failed more often than he won, but because it seemed like one of the easier challenges for Richman. This challenge actually ended up at the bottom of the barrel (and the bottom of a toilet not long after) because the owner of the restaurant that hosted Man vs. Food had basically lied/cheated and added “dangerously” spicy hot sauce to the wings that he served to Adam, something that he neither explained to Richman or his team nor added to the challenge regularly. Despite that, this challenge at least wins the award for the aptest name as the owner of Munchie’s 420 Cafe, in Sarasota, Florida, named his challenge the “Fire in Your Hole Wings Challenge” and while that’s pretty standard in terms of what they offer everyone, the problem stemmed from the fact that the owner made the wings especially spicy for Richman, essentially to steal a win for the television show. That’s probably because his challenge paled in comparison to other challenges otherwise, as the challenge was to eat ten spicy wings in twenty minutes without drinking anything (which in Richman’s case was milk). Richman only made it through two wings before throwing in his poison covered towel, and while he was used to losing it was the way in which he lost that clearly stuck with Richman (not to mention the heartburn and ulcer(s)).
5. Typical Types of Challenges: The Spicy Edition
As fans of Man vs. Food know, most of the food challenges that host Adam Richman found himself in ended up falling into one of two categories (and sometimes, and unfortunately for Richman, both); either quantity based challenges or heat based challenges. During an interview with the Guardian in the United Kingdom, Richman discussed his feeling on both, saying that heat based challenges were “No big deal” as long as the restaurant/diner was using fresh peppers as opposed to the pepper extracts that some people use, saying: “A good spicy challenge strikes a balance between flavor and fear”. As the braver of you probably know, fresh peppers aren’t as spicy as hot sauces because there’s still some flavor to those peppers (unless you get into the innards/seeds, which can be nightmares in and of themselves). Extracts and hot sauces that use extracts basically sacrifice that flavor for the pure heat that comes from those peppers and while some hot sauces do add additional ingredients to bring in that flavor, a lot can be so hot that you lose all ability to taste anything beyond pain and that’s one of the main situations in which Richman would find himself tapping out of challenges more often than not.
4. Typical Types of Challenges: The Quantity Edition
Beyond spicy challenges you’ll find what most people think of when they hear “competitive eating” (they also think of vomit, the fact that people are still dying of hunger around the world and hot dogs) is the quantity based challenges that Man vs. Food host Adam Richman found himself dealing with multiple times a week during the filming of a season of Man vs. Food. Like the spicy challenges, Richman pointed out what factors make these challenges worse than they were generally. The biggest problem that one comes across when competing in a quantity based challenge is food that contains starch and/or was deep fried. Things like french fries, hash browns, baked potatoes or mashed potatoes tend to fill you up faster than other things like proteins (especially). Those foods tend to feel like they’re sitting in your stomach longer, which is why potatoes were such a staple of meals for people who didn’t have a lot of money back before the days of the Potato Famine in Ireland, for example. There are multiple theories as to what lead to that disaster that basically destroyed all potato crops in the Emerald Isle, but I think we now know who was behind it. That’s right, Adam Richman.
3. The Worst Challenge part Two
While Richman stated that his least favorite challenge ever was the “Fire in Your Hole” challenge at Munchie’s 420 Cafe in Sarasota, Florida, that was mainly because he felt that the owner of Munchie’s had essentially cheated by altering the challenge to ensure that Richman would fail, which I guess would make his cafe look better on television (perhaps he was out of shirts, but the larger point is that if we can no longer trust the owner of Munchie’s 420 Cafe, then we’re in trouble as a species). So, that “least favorite” challenge involved some tomfoolery by the people making the food, so we also wanted to include the actual challenge that Richman had the most problems with, although this entry also involves some outside factors. That honor goes to the seven-pound breakfast burrito that Richman attempted to devour while he was extremely sick. During the above-mentioned ESPN Chat, Richman stated “I was extremely sick with a 101 fever and a sinus infection. Add to that I hate chunks of ham and green pepper in food and that dish had both. Truly a sucky experience.” Considering all the sucky experiences it seemed like Richman had (and the eventual depression he developed during the filming of the show), for this to be singled out as the suckiest of sucky situations, means it must’ve been really bad.
2. Why The Show Ended
While this list is basically reason after reason why Man vs. Food had to end, there’s more to it than what’s been listed thus far. While it was mentioned that Richman gained a lot of weight during the filming of the show and that that was detrimental to both his physical and mental health, Richman also felt like the show had really just reached its logical conclusion and that there was really nothing new that they could do or provide to its viewers. To put it succinctly, Richman explained “The simplest way to put it is to say that the spectacle diminishes over time”, and so Richman basically took the Seinfeld and Michael Jordan (after his first and second retirements) approach and instead of continuing the show for a couple more seasons while the ratings dropped and his BMI increasing, Richman pulled the plug. While his health had something to do with that, Richman seemingly resented the rumors that he had canceled the show because of his health, at least solely. In a Facebook post-Richman stated “Okay. Once and for ******* all – I am not dead, I am in good health thankfully, have suffered no health setbacks.”, that’s because someone wrote a fake obituary for Richman and the rumor spread online that he was dead. Richman called out that “blogger” and the “idiots [that] perpetuated the rumor” while also saying “Sorry haters, I’m vigilant about my health. Take that negative **** to St. Elsewhere. Capice?”. That wasn’t the last time that Richman lashed out at people online as he also went on an epic rant (or ten) against people on Twitter after he received some negative press for posting a hashtag that was tied to the pro-anorexia crowd that exists online (as a joke). So, perhaps Richman’s mental health isn’t back to normal after all.
1. He’s Wasn’t a Competitive Eater
Adam Richman seemed like the perfect fit for Man vs. Food as he was equal parts capable of eating vast amounts of food and also charming and great on television. That’s not because he was just a competitive eater with a good personality, but rather that he was an aspiring actor that liked to eat food. After graduating from the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (With an undergraduate degree in International Studies) and then eventually Yale’s Drama School, Richman began his acting career with a few guest roles on shows like All of My Children, Law & Order: Trial by Jury and Guiding Light. His largest pre-Man vs. Food role was in 2004 as he portrayed a butcher on the show, Joan of Arcadia, while he also kept his acting chops sharp by appearing in regional theater productions around the United States and keeping his wallet full by appearing in television commercials as well (some of which were seen nationally). He was the perfect fit for Man vs. Food, though, as he was essentially an expert of food before he landed the show. He kept a travel journal since 1995 that included every restaurant he ate at since 1995 while also self-educating himself on food and training to become a sushi chef. The best way to describe Richman is that he seemed to be on his way to being the most interesting man in the world and/or a modern day renaissance man. The one thing he wasn’t though, was a competitive eater, but he checked so many of the boxes that the Travel Channel wanted that they decided to cast him in what will most likely be the role of a lifetime for Richman. Yale Drama School.