Consuming 20 feet of meat is apparently newsworthy… Seattle and San Francisco take notice of the Wurst Challenge

Earlier today, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appeared on a video screen before a large group of individuals gathered at South by Southwest (SXSW) to discuss civil rights in an era of rampant domestic spying. My intention had been to watch the ACLU’s video of the event this evening, after putting the kids to bed, and write about it here. Apparently, though, when your live interview from Russia is being routed through seven proxies in hopes of keeping government assassins from knowing your exact location, the audio becomes virtually unlistenable. So, instead, I’ve decided to share an update about the Wurst Challenge, the epic “20 feet of meat” sausage face-off we’ve got planned for March 20 to benefit Ypsilanti’s FLY Children’s Art Center.

The Ann Arbor News ran a story about the event today, and it got picked up by the Associated Press. As of right now, it looks as though the story has been reprinted by about 20 different media outlets across the United States, from the CBS affiliate in Grand Rapids and WEMU, to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One would hope that increased contributions for FLY’s downtown Creativity Lab might follow, but I haven’t seen today’s tally yet. As of last night, though, our nine participants had raised $886, which I think it is a pretty respectable start. (Our Mayor is currently in 5th place, having brought in $76 in pledges, well behind Jason “Knifebeard SausageHawk” Youngs, who leads the pack with $335.)

If you have a few dollars and want to support a worthy cause, just click here, choose your champion, and leave a contribution so that FLY can keep inspiring our kids at their downtown Ypsilanti Creativity Lab. And come to the Wurst Bar on the 20th to see these nine brave, sausage-loving philanthropists wolf down impossible amounts of meat.

Oh, and apparently, when speaking with the Ann Arbor News, I challenged the President of Eastern Michigan University, Susan Martin, to participate…


For what it’s worth, I didn’t mean any disrespect by it. I do think, however, it would be awesome to have a representative from EMU sit alongside our Mayor and the various local luminaries we have joining us for the challenge. And, President Martin, if you’re reading this, you should know that, if you were to join us, you wouldn’t have to consume the entire 20 feet of meat. Even if you could only manage a few inches, we’d appreciate your effort. The important thing, from my perspective, is to help build that bridge between campus and the community, and I can’t imagine a better way than to have your support for FLY’s Creativity Lab. But, if you’re not a sausage fan, I’ve got two other suggestions for you to consider. One, you could appoint someone to eat in your place, like an art professor or regent. Or, two, you could contribute financially. Jesse Kranyak, the owner of the Wurst Bar, will be donating ten cents for every inch of sausage consumed by our nine contestants, and it would be awesome if you could match him. The kids of Ypsilanti would very much appreciate it.

update: It looks as though they’re also talking about it in Colorado.


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  1. Tony Paco
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    You all remember the last time an Ann Arbor News story went viral like this.

  2. anonymous
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of a giant sausage being what brings our two communities (EMU and the City) together, symbolically bridging the two sides of Cross Street.

  3. EMU insider
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

  4. double anonymous
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t say this to be mean, but I think it’s unlikely that President Martin would attend in person given where the event is being held. I’ll leave it at that. I do hope, however, that she appoints a designated eater to represent her and the University. That would be cool.

  5. 734
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    It raises an interesting question about EMU’s involvement in the community. Is there a comprehensive list somewhere showing all of the local boards they serve on?

  6. Posted March 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink


  7. adam eichner
    Posted March 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

  8. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Reading about this makes my stomach churn. How grotesque that animals smarter than dogs would be ruthlessly raised in cages no bigger than their bodies, subject to brutal mechanical rape, prgenancy and birth within a steel cage where they cant sit or stand, their heads eventually smashed in with a wrench or just their jugulars slit to bleed out helplessly on cold grimey tile floors. Then to have their flesh ground into a slurry to be reinjected into it’s own viscera by a sickeningly sexual machine for a party.

  9. Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with Thom here.

  10. W
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Are you a vegetarian now, Pete?

  11. Posted March 12, 2014 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I have to agree with Thom too.

  12. anonymous
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    According to the website, there is a tofu option.

  13. Elviscostello
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    John Travolta in Pulp Fiction- “Bacon tastes good, Pork Chops tast good”
    Samuel L. Jackson- “Sewer rat may taste like punk in pie, but I ain’t eating the filthy mother f*cker…”
    I’m with Vincent Vega!

  14. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Does the fact that there is a ‘tofu option’ at this party make the sows any less raped? or brutally confined? does it give them back their piglets? do they still feed the pigs with a mixture of their own liquified piglets and diarreha? does an offering to the small vegetarian community make up for the rampant porcine cannibalism inside the factory farms? should people just shut up about the conditions of these animals because they have been placated with tofu sausage? is that what you mean anon?

  15. Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    This is exactly my argument against vegetarianism. A “tofu option” does nothing to change abusive livestock production practices. The only thing it does is make the eater feel a little less guilty while allowing nothing to change at all.

    There is no reason to assume that meat eating will go away (and even if it did, we’d quickly find agriculture impossible since agriculture can’t happen without animals, historically, where does fertilizer come from?). And Thom (who I think very highly of) will disagree with me, but there are better and worse ways to raise animals for food. To me, the “tofu option” only allows the worse way to continue.

  16. W
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    So you agree with Thom, but yet you’re not a vegetarian, Pete?

  17. Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Yes, that is somewhat correct, or I agree that it is right of Thom to call out this event, which I also find to be a needlessly repulsive celebration of meat eating culture.

    I feel no need to be a vegetarian, but also feel no need to be a glutton.

  18. W
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. So you’re OK with eating the flesh of mechanically raped sentient beings who are fed their own diarrhea and beaten to death with wrenches, but just not in large quantities. Thank you for clarifying.

  19. Posted March 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, pretty much. Glad I could help you out.

    Where did the wrench come from? I didn’t realize that was a standard method in slaughterhouses. That seems somewhat inefficient.

  20. Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    That’s not much of an “argument against vegetarianism,” Pete. Just because I can’t stop the slaughter of pigs doesn’t mean I’m required to eat them.

  21. Ypsiosaurus Rex
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Thom I appreciate your comments on this stupid event. It only adds insult to injury that the owners are donating a paltry “10 cents per inch”. Mark, how about I donate $10 to Veg Michigan for each time I (or Thom, or anyone else) get to slap you in the face for promoting this event?

  22. Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    FWIW: According to this comment from Geoff Larcom on, EMU President Martin has accepted Mark’s challenge. Go figure!

    As for all of the stuff about meat being murder, etc.: I remember liking The Smiths when I was in college too. ;-)

    Look, if people want to be vegetarians for all sorts of different reasons, I have no problem with that and I I personally try to eat a mix of of foods, try to eat meats that I know are responsibly sourced and/or organic, etc. But I don’t see the point of getting so angry about a fundraiser for a kid’s art program.

  23. Posted March 12, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Skinner,

    It depends. If you just don’t like meat or just don’t want to eat meat, then you don’t have to eat it. That’s a personal choice. Full disclosure, I was vegetarian for 10 years and vegan for 7 of those ten (I think, it’s foggy these days). I stopped being vegetarian for a number of reasons, the biggest of which was that it sucks to live in Asia if you can’t eat animal products.

    It’s possible though one isn’t personally against meat as a food and has chosen vegetarianism as a protest against “factory farming.” In this case, being a vegetarian has done nothing at all to stop “factory farming.” It still occurs whether this person eats meat or not because other people eat meat form “factory farms.”

    Worse yet, this person hasn’t offered to support other forms of livestock production in the market, perhaps hindering the development of more ethical forms of meat production. To me (and admittedly no one agrees with me), this lack of action (or rather the strictly negative action) is the problem. If a person wants to create change in how animals are produced, then one has to offer alternatives. Being vegetarian offers none at all.

    Now, some might argue that an increasing number of vegetarians might reduce the number of animals killed. If all you are worried about is the number and the fact that animals are killed, then go for it. But the living animals are still being sodomized and getting their heads bludgeoned by wrenches.

    Mr. Skinner, no one agrees with me, and I’ll just bet you won’t either and that’s totally ok. I’m happy to have people not agree with me.

    People don’t get my view about how a belief in particular issues is pretty empty without action to change whatever it is one feels strongly about. Supporting ethical industries in the market is one form of action. Others might see vegetarianism as an act of protest against a particular type of food production, but they don’t see that the producers don’t really care about vegetarians at all since they don’t buy their product.

    I can’t say whether the Wurst event is being put on using meat which was raised and killed in an ethical manner. I hope it is, though. 20 feet of meat sounds kind of gross to me, though I’m happy to see kids supported.

  24. Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I was a vegan for about five years, and a vegetarian for about another five. I’m totally sympathetic to the arguments against meat consumption. If you search through the archive, you’ll find posts where I’ve written about it before. I don’t have the time or energy to debate it right now, and, to be honest, I’m not terribly inclined to enter into a conversation with someone who just threatened to slap my face. I did want to say, however, that in my ten years of not eating meat, I never once threatened anyone or screamed in anyone’s face. I was passionate about the subject, but I was also smart enough to know that tactics like those don’t work. If anything, they set the movement back. At any rate, take that for what it’s worth.

    As for the owners only donating a “paltry” 10 cents per inch, you might ask someone to help you with the math. There are 12 inches in a foot, and 20 feet in a 20 foot long sausage. And, if you do the multiplication, you’ll discover that a 20 foot long sausage is 240 inches long. So, if the owners of the Wurst bar, in addition to donating the space and the sausages, are contributing 10 cents an inch, that would work out to be $24 per sausage. And, as of right now, we have 9 challengers. (There’s talk of adding a few more as well.) So, the “paltry” ten cents an inch that you reference really begins to add up. That’s the beauty of addition. (It should also be noted that New Holland Brewery is donating an entire keg of Monkey King, with all proceeds going to FLY.)

    Finally, I’d like to ask you to keep in mind that this is a fundraiser for a kids art program in a financially struggling community. We’re not raising money to fund the NSA or something. I get that you don’t like meat. I ever respect it. But I’d argue that there are better targets out there than a bunch of poor kids who have had their art instruction budgets slashed.

  25. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    If the only way we can get people interested in contributing to art education for children is with a Roman orgy of flesh eating at 10 cents per inch, we’ve already lost. I suppose it’s not surprising that you dont get the point considering the glib bad faith required to exist in modernity. I just want to remind you these intelligent animals not only had to die for your pornographic fun, but they lived in freakish misery under an industrial system which is catagorically morally bankrupt and ecologically catastrophic. I know it’s shocking, but there are people out there who dont think like you do.

  26. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate that you’re doing something for art education Mark, thank you. I object to this method.

  27. Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Understood, Thom. And thank you for not threatening to hit me in the face like the other fellow.

    It’s also worth pointing out that is is not the only fundraiser I’ve helped FLY with. It just promises to be the most successful. You’re right, in theory, it should be enough to just say, “We need money to help bring arts education back into schools.” But, in reality, it’s not that easy. It’s hard to break through. And this event is doing that. We’ve already raised over $1,000, and there’s potential for quite a bit more. And it’s got people talking about FLY out of state. And, as someone else mentioned, it’s going to bring EMU administration across Cross Street. So I think it’s a good thing for the community. My hope is that people can appreciate the context, even if they don’t like the eating of meat.

  28. Posted March 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Pete, it’s possible to dislike something, and to abstain from it, and still be under no illusion that you will change other people. I think your assumption here is that meat consumption is the norm, and that therefore anyone who doesn’t conform has some explaining to do. I do disagree with that.

  29. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Again Mark I commend you on your efforts, thank you for raising money for children’s art education. Seriously, if caring people like you didn’t organize these events, schools in Michigan would just be the prison pipeline for the poor they are designed to be by our fascist plutocratic government. But at the risk of beating a dead horse, I think a fundraiser with hookers would be just as popular, if not more so. It would get national buzz, and probably well over $1K. I understand my fantesy world of philosophy and books just doesnt apply to reality, that in theory people would want to support children’s education, but lets be real, what they want is to pay for sex or to stuff their faces.

  30. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    It is true that there is more than one way to skin a cat but: Why in the hell would we choose to skin cats?

    I think the idea of this event and the gleeful participation in this fundraiser is a symptom…A sort of psychological “cover-up”….this fundraiser links a beautiful thing (child art program) and an evil thing (over consumption of a once lovely animals).

    The fact that several posters have mentioned they were once vegetarians, but choose to eat meat now and support this fundraiser, does not make them less culpable or more SENSITIVE to the vegetarian point of view.

    A relapse into an unnecessary evil (eating meat) is difficult thing for the once vegetarian to deal with.

    Gleeful support of this fundraiser is obviously a symptom of the an underlying moral dilemma that has not been dealt with yet.

  31. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I should add that I appreciate the commitment to the community. I admire Mark’s hard work and dedication to positive causes and I believe the participants in this fundraiser have their hearts in the right place. However, the weird juxtaposition of something so beautiful and so absurdly ugly is very interesting and something to think about…

  32. X
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I encourage Thom, Peter, Frosted Flakes and Ypsisaurus Rex to harness their collective energy and present us with an alternative fundraiser that can bring in a similar amount of money for what we all agree is a good cause. Don’t just complain, show us how it’s done. Show us how to host a successful, ethical fundraiser.

  33. Skeptic
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    In order to make this event more fair and equitable the tofu-option competitors should be required to eat as much tofu sausage as the equivalent amount of feed required to raise the hogs for “murder sausage.” I think it’s roughly 17 pounds of feed required to raise a pound of pork so the tofu dogs should be about 340 feet long to make it even. That doesn’t factor in the cruelty so some adjustment may be needed there by requiring the vegetarians to torture some squirrels or rabbits for several hours.

  34. Anonymous
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    You sure know how to kill a conversation, X.

  35. Ypsiosaurus Rex
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I wasn’t threatening you. Please read the comment carefully. I was offering to donate money to a good cause by doing something absurd. Do you see the parallel?

    Coincidentally, slapping you in the face would cause an infinitesimal amount of damage compared to that on the environmental, animals and human health by encouraging others to gorge on (primarily) animal food.

    If others are looking for good cause consider attending Veg Fest on April 13th. Be sure to stop and say “Hi”, I’ll be the one in the Smiths t-shirt.

  36. jcp2
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t it be reversed, with 1″ of tofu sausage being equivalent to 17″ of meat sausage?

  37. Something to Consider
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I find it interesting that these folks seem to think that, because they’ve gone a few years without eating meat, somehow their hands are clean. The truth is, all of us living in America are contributing to the destruction of the natural world. While I’d agree that a vegetarian diet is better than one based on factory farmed meat, in terms of detrimental impact, I think it’s naive to believe that, because you don’t eat meat, you’re not still part of the problem. Do you drive a car? Do you use electricity? Do you work at a job, in the case of Thom, where you do the bidding of big banks? Do you take hot showers? Unless you’re living in the wilderness, way off the grid, growing all of your own food, you shouldn’t cast stones. I’m proud of you for being veggie, but you’re not perfect. None of us are.

  38. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Yes, because something cant be done to metaphysical perfection, then it just doesn’t count, and because I take showers means I cant be critical. Where do I claim that being a vegan doesnt make me complicit? I drive on roads, I eat food, I pay taxes, that means I am responsible not only for endless war for resources, but the ecological destruction of the planet I am on. Let me get this straight, unless one is living in a cave one cant be critical of aspects of modernity? Who comes up with this ponderous bullshit? So people who lived in say, Nazi Germany, they couldn’t protest (because they would be killed for starters) but they would be catagorically wrong to do so if they lived there? Forgive me for not being impressed with your bullshit line of thinking.

  39. Skeptic
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Jcp2, no 17′ of meat would require the equivalent of 289′ of tofu based on the amount of feed required to raise the hogs, so to make it an equitable celebration of inefficient protein sources I had it the right way around. I’m not sure how to calculate the number if face slaps to counterbalance the hogs being beaten to death with wrenches though.

  40. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Thom–Thanks for your insights. I agree with what you have said here.

    Mr./Mrs. Consider–I agree with some of what you wrote too. Nobody has clean hands! I have been a vegetarian for nearly two decades and I have NEVER attacked someone for choosing to eat meat. I think you are missing the point of the criticism here. This event is not a “meal” in any sense of the word. Nobody is sacrificing the life of a pig for his/ her nourishment. This event appears to be promoted as a sort of psycho circus where already slaughtered pigs will be stuffed into already full people. All so shamelessly! Thom’s calling it a “pornographic” “roman orgy” hits the nail on the head. He can probably describe the grossness that appears to be unfolding better than I can.

    X–I am no doubt vastly inferior when it comes to actually helping the community out or contributing to charity especially when compared to someone like Mark, but, criticism has its place. I think you are being unfair when you characterize our collective criticism as simply “complaining”. This event is for a good cause but it is sort of a net gain of zero. Thom is right to have spoken up. His criticism, if you UNDERSTAND what he is saying, is the only net gain that will come out of what seems to be unfolding at this event. The animals are already dead…Is it too late to change the rules? Distribute the sausage in a reasonable way to the people at the party and give the prize money to the person who gives the best eulogy or grace or whatever they used to call those speeches that accompanied the acknowledgment of the sacrifice of an animal in the “good old days”.

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] those who didn’t read about the event in San Francisco Chronicle, or hear about it on the radio in Colorado Springs, here’s how it works… This Thursday evening, the folks at Ypsilanti’s Wurst Bar […]

  2. […] only locally, on stations like WEMU prior to the event, but also on radio stations as far away as Colorado Springs. Here, for the historical record, is the WWJ […]

  3. By Wurst Challenge II • Ypsilanti • March 29 on March 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    […] whatever reason, captured the imagination of folks around the world. People were talking about it from San Francisco to Colorado Springs. Photos ran in the Washington Post. A story ran on Fox News. A reporter from the Associated Press […]

  4. By Wurst Challenge III: May 22 on May 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    […] first issued, it captured the imagination of folks around the world. People were talking about it from San Francisco to Colorado Springs. Photos ran in the Washington Post. A story ran on Fox News. A reporter from the Associated Press […]

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