Food + Beverage
Helldog in Stockholm, Sweden, claims to serve the world's hottest hotdog. Anyone finishing one within five minutes gets a free T-shirt. I am one of four international bloggers accepting the challenge. Will any of us get a T-shirt?
I like spicy food, and I've eaten some pretty spicy food in my day. The spiciest dish I've ever eaten was at the Thai restaurant of a five star resort in Phuket, Thailand. It had four red peppers on the menu.
When I ordered the dish, the waitress asked if I wanted them to tone it down a bit. "That won't be necessary," I boasted. "I'm from California, and I like spicy food."
"This dish not Thai spicy!" the waitress warned. "This dish Phuket spicy. Only Phuket people eat. Not suitable for tourist like you."
That did it. I was going to eat that dish come Hell or high water.
Several minutes later, the waitress brought the dish with a nervous look on her face. She nervously put it on the table. And she hovered.
"You no like, no problem!" the waitress said. "Ask Chef make dish suitable for tourist like you."
I took one bite ... OMG!!! I had never tasted anything that spicy before in my life. I was totally out of my comfort zone. But at least the dish tasted good - very, very, VERY good.
And with considerable determination, I was able to finish it - even if the waitress did offer three more times to have the Chef make me a toned down version of the dish.
I am in Stockholm, Sweden, to attend the Travel Bloggers Exchange, a.k.a. TBEX. The event has officially ended, but a few of us remain.
When Jessica Elliott, Lead Explorer at How DARE She, gets in touch to ask if I would like to join her and some other some international bloggers go to a place claiming to serve the world's hottest hotdogs, I am excited - make that very, very, VERY excited.
To be more precise, I can't wait. I am, in fact, the first person to arrive.
I am expecting something like those hot links we used to devour on East 14th Street in Oakland's Deep East - a bit spicier, perhaps?
No such luck!
Helldog is located in Stockholm's historic Gamla Stan district. It is manned by Jesper Levin, who must have a sadistic streak. It is only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm until the wee hours.
Helldog serves several types of hotdogs and hamburgers. And it has a challenge: if you can consume one of their "world's hottest hotdogs" within five minutes (and NOT consume anything else for the following five minutes), you get a free T-shirt to promote the place (as in "What's the big deal?").
And then there are all those rules. You can't do this, you can't to that. If you spill something, you have to lick it up.
When the hotdogs arrive, I am like, "WTFIT???"
They are SLATHERED in the most revolting liquid red stuff (hot sauce???) I have ever seen, smelled, or tasted. And if you drip any, you are supposed to lick it up???
So is this about your ability to withstand bad spicy food - or your ability to keep bad hot sauce balanced on top of a hotdog?
Insult to Injury
One of us - the smartest? - bails after one bite. I keep at it. I am even held up as a role model for the other remaining two.
"What's the matter with you two wimps," Jesper snarls. "Look at the old man. He's not having any problem." An Oakland Raider fan's proudest moment?
I position myself so that the logo on my tank top faces the camera. I point to the shield and flash an enthusiastic smile.
About one-third or one half of my way through, however, I realize there is no way I can finish the world's most disgusting wiener.
So I stop and look on in awe as a guy whose name I didn't get continues, taking bite after bite after bite. Two-thirds of the way through, however, he bails, too. Jessica just stands there with a traumatized look on her face.
No water is offered. All of the mini-marts are closed. And the nearby bars won't let us in to buy a drink - even a take-away bottle of beer. Are they afraid we will throw up all over the place? I am SURE it has happened in the past.
I was expecting the hotdog to be hot - very, very, VERY hot. But I wasn't expecting that totally revolting hot sauce. And the taste simply wasn't to my taste. It wasn't the heat. It was the flavour that turned me off.
The "rules" were also a bit nitpicky.
I think there should have been something on offer for those that failed. And what about for those that succeeded?
Jessica messaged me on Facebook that someone walked up after I left and finished off the world's hottest hotdog in two minutes flat.
It was fun. I'm glad I did it. And I'm proud to say that I made it home without throwing up - and feel fine the next day.
But I'd have to give HellDog two thumbs down. Rather than trying to sell us one of those T-shirts promoting the place, they should have offered to sell us a cold drink.
Helldog, Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: 0707474792.Website: Helldog.
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