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What is the Cici’s Pizza Challenge?

The Cici’s Pizza Challenge is an eating contest held at Cici’s Pizza restaurants across the United States. It challenges participants to eat an entire Cici’s buffet in a set amount of time. Cici’s is an American buffet restaurant chain that offers unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and dessert. The Cici’s Pizza Challenge puts eaters’ stomachs and wits to the test.

What are the Rules of the Cici’s Pizza Challenge?

The official rules of the Cici’s Pizza Challenge are:

  • Contestants have 1 hour to eat as much of the Cici’s buffet as possible.
  • They can eat anything off the buffet except drinks.
  • No sharing food or purging is allowed.
  • Contestants must pay the regular Cici’s buffet price to compete.
  • The winner is the person who eats the most food by weight.

While rules can vary by location, these are the standard regulations. Contestants should have a big appetite, strong stomach, and solid strategy to succeed.

What are the Origins of the Challenge?

The Cici’s Pizza Challenge originated in the early 2000s but gained popularity around 2010. It was started by competitive eaters looking for a new eating contest to conquer. Cici’s Pizza was a perfect fit with its endless buffet. Some attribute the first Cici’s challenge to competitive eater Jamie “The Bear” McDonald in 2001 in Texas. However, it did not take off nationwide until a decade later.

In 2011 competitive eater Dave “Coondog” O’Karma filmed himself taking the Cici’s challenge in California, catalyzing a new trend. More eaters began tackling Cici’s around the country and posting videos online. As the challenges gained more publicity, Cici’s themselves embraced it as a marketing strategy. Now some locations actively promote and sponsor pizza eating contests.

What are Some Strategies for the Cici’s Pizza Challenge?

To succeed at the Cici’s Pizza Challenge, competitors need to have the right game plan. Here are some tips and strategies:

  • Pace yourself – It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t go too hard too fast.
  • Drink water – Stay hydrated since this is a lot of food to digest.
  • Go for the light items first – Start with salads, fruits, and vegetables to build up space.
  • Save the pizza – Only tackle the heavy pizza and pasta at the end when you have more room.
  • Take breaks – Step away from the table occasionally to let the food settle.
  • Bring antacids – Come prepared to beat bloating and heartburn.
  • Have a wingman – Bring someone to get you refills and cheer you on.
  • Wear stretchy pants – You’ll need expandable waistbands by the end.
  • Review portion sizes – Study the buffet layout online so you know what to target.
  • BYOD (Bring your own drinks) – Stay hydrated with your own preferred beverages.

What are Some Notable Cici’s Pizza Challenge Records?

The legends of the Cici’s Pizza Challenge have set some staggering records over the years. Here are some of the most jaw-dropping accomplishments:

Contestant Amount Eaten Year
Jamie McDonald 25 lbs 2009
Joey Chestnut 23 lbs 2013
Molly Schuyler 21 lbs 2015
Darron Breeden 28 lbs 2016
Katina DeJarnett 40 lbs 2017

As the table shows, records constantly get broken as competitive eaters push the limits. Jamie McDonald set the original benchmark by downing 25 lbs of Cici’s in 2009. Since then, legends like Joey Chestnut have put up staggering numbers at the Cici’s Pizza Challenge.

The current record belongs to Katina DeJarnett, who ate an unthinkable 40 pounds of Cici’s buffet food in 2017. This demolished the previous 33 lbs record. DeJarnett is considered the reigning queen of the Cici’s Pizza Challenge today.

What are the Biggest Challenges of the Competition?

While eating acres of pizza may sound easy at first, the Cici’s Pizza Challenge presents some daunting obstacles:

  • Sheer volume of food – The amount of food required is staggering for one sitting.
  • Getting full too fast – Stomach capacity reaches its limit quickly.
  • Bread overload – Extra carbs and dough take up space.
  • Lack of protein – Not enough meat on the buffet relative to sides.
  • Mental toughness – Pushing through the pain when already stuffed.
  • Limited time – The 1-hour timeframe puts pressure.
  • Soda restrictions – No drinks allowed except water.
  • Unbalanced nutrition – Lacking healthy fats to optimize digestion.
  • Monotony – Eating the same foods over and over.
  • Digestive issues – Cramps, bloating, nausea, etc.

These factors test the stomach capacity, willpower, and technique of even top-tier competitors. Mastering the mental game and intestinal fortitude is a must.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Doing the Challenge?

Before attempting the Cici’s Pizza Challenge, weigh the potential pros and cons:


  • Bragging rights and fame if you win
  • Discounted or free Cici’s pizza if you finish
  • Competition adrenaline rush
  • Hilarious story to entertain friends
  • Impresses fellow competitive eaters
  • Can earn money if there’s a cash prize


  • Potential for sickness and discomfort after
  • High cost if you can’t finish
  • Could exacerbate gastrointestinal issues
  • Hours of feeling miserably full
  • Dangers of reckless overeating
  • Contributes to unhealthy diet and habits

The Cici’s challenge is not for the faint of heart or stomach. Consider whether benefits outweigh the costs before attempting this feat.

What are Some Fun Alternatives to the Cici’s Challenge?

If tackling the full Cici’s Pizza Challenge seems too extreme, here are some lighter alternatives to try:

  • Cici’s buffet speed eating contest – How fast can you finish a normal plate?
  • Cici’s sample plate contests – Who can sample the most buffet items in 10 minutes?
  • Cici’s desserts challenge – Eat the most cinnamon rolls or brownies in a round.
  • Salad eating competition – Who can consume the biggest salad?
  • Pizza slice challenge – Eat the most slices in 3 minutes.
  • Stuffed crust challenge – Speed eat Cici’s stuffed crust pizza.
  • Kid’s Cici’s challenge – Fun contest for children with smaller portions.
  • Pie eating relay – Team race to finish a pie down the line.

With a little creativity, people can make their own fun and safer Cici’s challenges. These games capture the competitive spirit without going overboard.


The Cici’s Pizza Challenge dares intrepid eaters to consume an entire all-you-can-eat buffet. This eating contest pushes the limits of the stomach and willpower. Strategies for success include pacing yourself, optimizing the plate, and mentally pushing through. While not for the casual diner, the Cici’s challenge provides a fun feat for diehard competitive eaters to test their skills. Just beware of the dangers of overeating and know your personal limits.