• 91°

The Baronator Rules

The first thing to know about the Baronator is this: It’s a LOT of food.

The next thing to know is that nobody has ever conquered it.

The Baronator is a three-pound hamburger patty atop a one-pound bun, with two pounds of cheese, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and other fixin’s, served on a pizza pan alongside a pound of French fries.

It’s a lot of food. Seven pounds of it, altogether. Finish within an hour, though, and it’s free.

So far, nobody has walked away from The Baron’s Pub on N. Main Street without having to pay for the monster meal. Not even Mike Williams, the Baron’s owner, has beaten the challenge.

Some of the 10 or so who have tried came close, he said Tuesday. But when three people — including one of the masterminds behind the meal — sat down with their platters on Saturday, the Baronator was still unbeaten. A little more than an hour later, the burger was still the undisputed champion.

“I’ve seen a lot of people try this and not succeed,” said 23-year-old Chris Riddick of Suffolk. Riddick is one of the chefs at Baron’s and prepared three of the super-burgers on Saturday.

He had wanted to try the challenge since it was introduced late last summer.

With two customers on their way toward failing the challenge in another part of the restaurant, Riddick had decided that Saturday was finally the time to step up to the plate, as it were.

Sitting at the restaurant’s long bar just a quarter into the challenge, he looked and sounded confident about his chances to finish the food on his plate, but there was a hint of the recognition of the huge task before him.

“It’s a great burger,” he said. “But it’s a lot of food, though.”

In fact, the Baronator is the equivalent of six of the restaurant’s signature Baron Burgers. And even if the contestant finishes the burger, there are all those fries to eat. A contestant must clean his plate to win the challenge.

In the lower part of the restaurant on Saturday, forty-three minutes after a waitress set the platter in front of him, Tim Reeves stood up from his chair and threw in the napkin.

He had spent much of the previous 10 minutes contemplating a slice of tomato. Three quarters of his sandwich remained untouched, and it was hard to tell if he had eaten any fries. The tomato, as it turned out, was the last thing he would eat from the platter.

“Swallowing that last bite,” he said, “that’ll rank right up there with finishing boot camp.”

When Reeves gave up, Troy Cooper, who shared a table with Reeves and was working on his own Baronator platter, was about halfway through the pile of food he’d created by cutting the burger into bite-sized pieces.

Cooper had been the picture of confidence while waiting for the food to be delivered to his table. Halfway through the challenge, though, he had slowed, and he was “assessing (his) situation.”

Not long after his friend had given up, Cooper was also calling it quits.

Back at the bar, even Riddick was in trouble. He’d been about halfway through the burger for more than 20 minutes, and his confidence had evaporated.

“I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s far from possible,” he said, adding with no sense of irony that the quantity of food on the platter had been chosen because, “We wanted to do something that was going to be realistic.”

Looking at the squashed-burger remnants on his plate, he asked, “Who can eat six burgers?”

Another Baron’s cook, Jessica Purser, sat beside Riddick and munched on her own, non-superhuman-sized Baron Burger. Would she ever try to finish the big one?

“No way,” she said.

As Purser was finishing her lunch, Riddick was still holding part of his burger, no closer to finishing it than he’d been five minutes earlier.

“Today just wasn’t my day,” he said, giving up on the challenge. He’d eaten a light breakfast, and he thought he’d come prepared.

“My advice is to probably not eat for a week beforehand,” he said. “I feel OK. I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to get out of this chair, to be honest.”

Saturday’s score: Baronator — 3, Big-time eaters — 0