Man v. Food

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This is actually tame compared to the actual challenges.

Man v Food Is an American travelogue show on the Travel Channel.

Adam Richman, the host, visits a "City of The Week" and takes on that city's most famous "Food Challenge", often involving a food native to that city. These challenges typically involve one of the following:

  1. Quantity Challenge: Simply the consumption of extreme quantities of a particular food or, in some challenges, a platter of several kinds of food.
  2. Spicy Challenges: almost always includes the Habenero chili. Or occasionally the even hotter Bhut Jolokia (AKA "Ghost Chili", the hottest chili in the world).
  3. Rematch Challenge : Grudge Match Challenge, wherein the host attempts challenges very similar to ones that he had previously lost.

And of course since this is a travelogue show, Act I and, usually, most of Act II are composed of the host visiting other restaurants in the City of the Week. This is done to encourage travel to the City of the Week. Adam goes more in depth on the "travel" side on the show's companion web series, A Side Of City.

Note that the correct name of the show is "Man v Food", and not "Man vs. Food".

Tropes used in Man v. Food include:
  • Adorkable: Oh, Adam...
  • Arch Enemy - The ghost chili pepper to Adam.
  • Ascended Fanboy - Adam ends up coaching three members of the Harlem Globetrotters for a two pound spicy BBQ sandwich challenge. The ending of the Harlem episode of Man V. Food Nation had Adam receiving a one-of-a-kind #1 Harlem Globetrotters jersey after Adam presented three of its members the Man V. Food Nation belt that they won in their spicy challenge.
  • Big Eater: Adam, even under normal circumstances. Regular exercise keeps his figure just north of average.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: WILL be involved during the Spicy Challenges.
    • The broth in a ramen noodle soup challenge is so spicy, not even the owner, who cooked it for Adam, has ever tried it.
    • The "Stupid Wings" challenge: In addition to the employees being instructed to actively discourage people from doing it, Adam was required to sign a waiver before starting.
    • Then there was the sushi challenge which had qualifying rounds just to see if the challenger had any hope of being able to eat the actual challenge roll.
    • At least one hot wings challenge and one BBQ sandwich had capsicum extract as an ingredient.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The prizes for the challenges are rarely greater than a photo on the wall and/or a t-shirt.
    • Sometimes the meal is also free.
    • One of Adam's more unusual rewards was a bumper sticker.
    • On the other hand, there have been challenges that rewards Adam with a prize that displays to the world that he lost.
  • Catch Phrase: "Today, in the battle of [challenge name] at [challenge location]... Today: Man/Food won!"
    • While the above example is his actual catchphrase, Adam says "This is the one of the best _____(whatever food he's eating) I've ever eaten!" so frequently that it might as well be his catch phrase as well.
    • On Man v. Food Nation, whenever that episode's challenger fails his/her attempt: "We salute the victorious food."
  • Consolation World Record: When Adam failed to break the Men's world record in the "Don Juan Taco" challenge, Juan created a new Celebrity record category with Adam as the first record holder.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: You wouldn't know it by looking, but the show has documented quite a few people who look like they could simply not be able to pull off any of these challenges, yet they do.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Adam's first encounter with the "Suicide Wings." He took one bite, and had to stop. He later came back and won though. Keep in mind that the first attempt was performed before the series started.
    • Also the "Fire in Your Hole" wing challenge (which featured the Ghost Chili as one of its ingredients) in Sarasota, FL gave Adam his only loss in spicy challenges.
  • Determinator: During the Doughman relay in Durham, North Carolina, Adam twists his ankle while running in his part of the relay. He initially slows to a walk, but later continues running to the tag off the last leg of the race. His team placed 19th out of 59 overall, a respectable position.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Adam managed to finish off five giant milkshakes with in the set time, only to lose the challenge when he couldn't keep the shakes down. He had ordered several different milkshakes, which he admitted was what did him in at the end. The challenge gets a Continuity Nod in a later one wherein he has to drink a 6-lb. shake and eat a 1-lb. sandwich, as he decides to just order a giant vanilla shake.
  • Downer Ending: Food winning - especially when Adam falls just short.
    • One that stands out is Memphis' "Sasquatch Burger", which was about the size of a spare tire. He got about halfway through it before throwing in the towel.
    • The "Don Juan Taco" challenge: Adam can set a new record by eating 8 breakfast tacos and there's no time limit. He eats four with no problem, then decides to take a break, taking advantage of the unlimited time. But when he's ready to eat the fifth taco, he can't because he's still full. Realizing that it will be hours before he can finish, he throws in the towel because he doesn't want to take up anyone else's time.
    • The Great Steak Challenge: Adam had to eat 74 ounces of Steak (5 different varieties) in under an hour. Adam fell short by 2 bites, but the real downer was he ran out of time (he had enough room to eat the remaining meat).
    • The "Southwestern Exposure" 12-egg omelet: Adam was able to defeat "West Coast Adam" by eating more of the 5 pound, pizza platter-sized feast, but lost the challenge by 2 bites.
  • Food Porn: Invoked and parodied.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the "Kodiak Arrest" challenge, a list is shown of ingredients that comprise the challenge as well as the two segments shown prior. Throughout the list are a few of Santa's reindeer.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: During the "Manimal Challenge" Episode, Adam was having a field day with the name Futcher.
    • Man V. Food Nation: "Shedhead".
  • Harder Than Hard: Many of the challenges have a single-digit win total (with a few at no one). None of the contests Adam has faced have a win percentage of over 20%.
    • New York's Curry challenge plays this trope straight and seemingly subverts it, over 100 people have won the challenge, but thousands have tried and failed.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: "It tastes like burning has been invoked by name more than once.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: One recurring piece of background music sounds suspiciously like "Life in the Fast Lane" by The Eagles.
  • No Indoor Voice: Adam tends to shout at times whenever doing his voiceovers.
  • Precision F-Strike: The "Kitchen Sink" Challenge

Hostess: "Alright Adam, now all you have to do is finish the tray!"
Adam (Narrating): "I forgot about the F'-- tray!"

    • And again during the Oyster Bar challenge.


  • Pungeon Master: Adam
  • Race Against the Clock: Most challenges Adam goes up against are of this variety. Interestingly enough, most challenges he fails to are typically due to running out of time, instead of other factors.
    • One challenge in particular involved a giant burger sold at a minor-league Baseball park that had to be eaten between the seventh-inning stretch and the game's final out (between 12 and 15 outs, depending on if the home team needed to bat in the bottom of the ninth). This meant that Adam didn't know exactly how long he had to finish it since it was how quickly the outs were recorded that determined how much time he had, rather than a clock. He managed to finish it off only because the final batter fouled off an 0-2 pitch.
  • Self Deprecating Humor
  • Shaped Like Itself: Somewhat literally, in the Richmond, VA "Stupid Wing Challenge", the secret ingredient in the "Container of Poor Judgement" is the Stupid Wing sauce left over from all the batches made over the course of the sauce's first day, and left to marinate with the leftovers from each consecutive day afterwards.
  • Shmuck Bait: The spicy challenges. Some have disclaimers warning challengers what a bad idea trying them is.
  • Shout-Out: In one challege when the crowd starts chanting "Half-way there!", Adam responds "and I'm livin' on a prayer."
    • Before his mystery challenge in Sarasota: "My challenge is a mystery... but sometimes--" *Glasses Pull* "--the mystery... is what makes it a challenge." YEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH
  • Sophisticated As Hell: During San Francisco's "Kitchen Sink Challenge":

Adam: In the words of William Shakespeare; "This totally sucks."

  • Special Guest: Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern appeared in the Minneapolis episode to introduce Adam to the "wonders" of lutefisk.
    • Syracuse University head men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim appeared in the Syracuse episode to help Adam sample some food at his favorite restaurant.
    • When Phoenix restaurant owner of CoopersTown Alice Cooper appears, Adam responds by bowing and saying "We're not worthy!".
      • Also in Phoenix, Sam Moore of the soul and R&B duo "Sam & Dave" (best known for the song "Soul Man") appeared before Adam took his "Ultimate Sliders Challenge" at Chompie's Deli.
    • In Atlanta, while stopping by Gladys Knight's soul food restaurant, the lady herself was in, and personally cooked up some chicken and waffles for Adam.
    • In the "Don Shula 48-oz. Steak Challenge", the man himself appeared in Adam's training segment.
    • Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox appeared and jokingly called Yankee fan Adam a bum. He was not there specifically to be a special guest, just stopped by the restaurant for lunch.
      • In a way, the New York episode where Adam did the "Suicide Six Wings" rematch having current New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain giving him advice involving how to beat the challenge -- "Basically, you wing it."—is kind of a counterpoint to the Boston episode. Which would kind of give this an example of Fridge Brilliance here.
    • Well-known competitive eater and San Jose native Joey Chestnut participated in the Iguana's Taqueira's "BurrioZilla" challenge when Adam announced that he had a different challenge to cover and asked who amongst the crowd was going to participate in this challenge. Joey ended up beating the 5 pound challenge in 3 minutes and 10 seconds!
    • A Man V. Food Nation episode had the Lo Cash Cowboys particapting in Nashville's undefeated "Big Roost Challenge". The challenge is still undefeated.
    • A Man V. Food Nation episode filmed in Key West had Vanilla Ice talking about his enjoyment for the Blue Heaven's key lime pie.
    • A Man V. Food Nation episode had three members of the Harlem Globetrotters (Bull Bullard, Hammer Harrison, and "Slick" Willie Shaw) participating in Harlem's "Squealer Challenge". For this episode, all three of the participating members have to beat the spicy-capsicum extract BBQ two-pound challenge in 15 minutes and then endure a 5 minute waiting period, or else the challenge would count as a loss. Two of the Harlem Globetrotters finished with over a minute left to go, while the last one (Bull) finished it at the very last second. All three of them ended up succeeding the 5 minute waiting period, with two of the three enduring an extra minute's worth of pain since they had to wait for Bull to finish. Afterwords, they get honored with the Man V. Food Nation belt, while the Harlem Globetrotters end up honoring him with an honorary one-of-a-kind #1 Richmond jersey for helping them out.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Every chance he gets, Adam gets a burger with bacon and bleu cheese.
    • He also tends to like chili a lot.
  • The Un-Reveal: In some of Adam's visits, before he takes the challenge, he participates in city-famous food debates such as the 'Ju(i)cy Lucy' in the Twin Cities. After trying both foods, he stands in front of one of the restaurants, and says that his favorite is (cue the noisy truck). He pulls off a similar stunt with regards to the Coney Island hot dog between American and Lafayette.
  • Up to Eleven: How insane can the non-challenge foods get? Let's see: the "Fried Chicken Eggs-Benedict"? Everything at the California State Fair (including a potato spiral with a hot dog in the middle, and a deep-fried three-Twinkie-on-a-stick)? Cinnamon rolls with their own gravitational pull?
    • Blimpie's in Ann Arbor, Michigan has burger menu consisting of over a dozen different ingredients, of which three are used per burger. The local university calculated that there are over 2.1 BILLION possible burger combinations.
    • The Texas-sized donut made at Round Rock Donuts. What do they use to cut those out of the dough? A bucket!
    • Detroit's Mega Burger restaurant often requires the chefs to cook the burgers in a giant stew pot (Just to keep the shape), and the cooking process for the meat itself takes hours.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Amazingly infrequent.
    • The aforementioned milkshake challenge and the "Carnivore Challenge" 11 pound pizza, currently. The latter had it happen to Adam's challenge partner.
      • The Louisville episode of Man V. Food Nation had "Burrito Joe" vomit in the 7-and-a-half pound "Comfy Cow" ice cream challenge.
  • Waxing Lyrical: One episode of Man v. Food Nation featured a pizza filled to the brim with four different chilis (with the habenero being the spiciest). Adam sampled the pizza, then turns to the chef and started quoting rapper DMX.

"Ya'll gonna make me lose my mind. *points to his nose* Up in here. Up in here.

  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: For the 190 pound burger challenge (no that's not a typo) in Detroit, Adam recruited help from an entire local football and hockey team's lineups, a local firefighter precinct, a roller derby squad, Mexican lucha libre wrestlers, and a Kiss cover band in full makeup

Masked Wrestler: [Standing up and brandishing a whole pickle] I GOT PICKLEEEEEEES! YEAAAAAH!!!