'I tried a hot wings challenge called House of Pain and realised my mistake on my fourth'

There’s a moment in everyone’s life when you realise you’ve made a mistake and you’ll have to pay the consequences of your actions.

General manager Aurelija Girdvainyte helps James to get ready for the challenge
General manager Aurelija Girdvainyte helps James to get ready for the challenge

For me, this moment came as I forced the fourth wing down and began to struggle with the fifth of the House of Pain 666 wing challenge at the Cock'n'Bull in Stourbridge.

Having completed a hot wing challenge at Rodeos in Wolverhampton, I was on the lookout for a test, something to put a bit of heat on my tongue and tackle my taste buds, so when I heard about this, I decided to give it a go.

It is a long-established challenge at the popular restaurant and its sister chain in Mere Green, with those taking part having six minutes to complete six chicken wings covered in BBQ sauce and Cock N Bull’s own hot sauce.

A quick glance at the bottle of sauce tells me of the gastric fun I’ve got in store, with the ingredients including Carolina reaper, Naga chilli, Trinidad scorpions and scotch bonnet, meaning up to nine million on the official hot pepper scoville scale.

Owner David Salmon said he had never completed the challenge, nor had a lot of the staff, and while a lot of people had tried it, either individually or as part of a group, and competitive eater Leah Shutkever has done it, the success rate was low.

The challenge involves eat six hot wings covered in hot sauce in six minutes, then six minutes to sit and let it burn

He said: “I think maybe seven per cent of people who’ve tried it have done it, and we have the board over there of about 20 people who completed it and we do about five or six challenge a week.

“The people who are able to complete it are either crazy or have asbestos mouths, but if you can get through it and you can take it, then you can do it.

“It’s grown on social media and people are coming down because they want the T-shirt, the certificate and the accolades that come with it, so it’s a mad challenge, but plenty of people want to give it a go.”

The sauce James is holding measures at nine million scovilles and contains four different chilli's

The rewards are indeed great, with a personalised T-Shirt and a photo on the Wall of Flame for those who do complete it, something I thought would be nice to have for myself.

As I sit down, I smell spice in the air as a bucket with a toxic symbol is brought to me by manager Aurelija Girdvainyte, along with a pint of milk tantalisingly close.

As with all challenges like this and, indeed, like the Rodeos challenge, I am asked to sign a disclaimer beforehand, absolving Cock'n'Bull of all responsibility should I become ill and reminding me that it is my own stupid fault that I chose to do this challenge.

I repeat a mantra to myself about not fearing the wings and as the countdown hits zero, I pile into the first wing, remembering the technique of just eating the wing as quickly as possible.

What becomes vividly clear at this point is that these wings are big and much saucy, and the first wing goes down quickly and without much heat, possibly lulling me in to a false sense of security.

The second goes down, but then the heat begins to hit me on the third one, with the various spices and chilli’s tickling the back of my throat and causing me to have to take a few breaths.

It all becomes too much for James as the chilli kicks in

It becomes harder and harder to strip the bones of the wings, which are hot to hold as well. I should have worn gloves.

I force down the chicken from wings three and four, trying to concentrate on the task ahead, but find my resolve severely tested on wing five, with the meat simply not going down and more than a few coughing fits taking place.

Even though I have a minute left and just one wing left, I find I physically cannot go on any further, even if my mind is telling me to fight through the pain. It’s a hard thing to realise you’ve come this far, but cannot finish it off, but the task becomes too much and I find myself apologising as I cannot finish the challenge.

The pain of defeat is quickly swept up by the pain of hot chilli on my lips and fingers and a very real need to clean myself up sharpish, necessitating a trip to the men’s room plus a toilet roll straight from the freezer.

The milk is much-needed for James after the challenge

Three pints of milk later, I’m feeling a bit more human, but it’s a stark reminder that these challenges are exactly that: a challenge and not one to be taken lightly. All the kind words of Aurelija and David are nice, but only remind me that I came so close.

It’s a good way of reminding me that I don’t want to put myself through this again. I'll politely decline the challenge next time.

However, if you do want to try it and face the fire, the challenge costs £10 and can be taken at Cock'n'Bull on Stourbridge High Street.

Still would have liked to have that t-shirt though....

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