About a month ago I set forth the challenge to myself to tackle the Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwich Skyscraper — 5 scoops of ice cream sandwiched between 6 cookies. Anyone can participate, giving Coolhaus a few days notice, so I chose August 13th as the challenge day– first because I’d be running 20 miles and second because it coincided with the 5th Annual Austin Ice Cream Festival. What better way for Coolhaus to showcase their amazing ice cream sandwiches than with an eating challenge at an ice cream festival!
I had a to-do list to get me through the day of extremes. Step one: run. Honestly I was a little afraid of how 20 miles would go in this
ridiculous regular Texas heat. Mercifully there was a lot of cloud cover, and with the help of nearly 3 hours worth of podcasts, I powered through. Really it was just the ice cream skyscraper that kept me going. In all my run data says I burned a little over 2500 calories. Perfect.
Once I got home the preparation began:
I had to make sure my unverified, self-diagnosed lactose intolerance was tended to. My game plan included two tablets in the car on the way, then one or two during the challenge, and another one after. I figured that should cover it.
Ev, Hazel, and I got to the festival right around noon and made a direct line to the Coolhaus truck. I found the guys behind the tweets and could definitely tell they were as excited as I was to see how this would turn out. Apparently it was the first Austin Skyscraper attempt! After some quick introductions and an announcement on the festival stage, they brought out the box. The unveiling was a bit intimidating:
From the right to left, the ice cream flavors go Peanut Butter, Strawberry-Jalapeno, Coffee-Toffee, Vanilla, and Root Beer. The cookies (from right to left) were oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle, chocolate, chocolate chip, ginger, and chocolate chip. I didn’t choose the flavors, but was happy with all but one. I even appreciated putting the peanut butter next to the strawberry, which resembled a PB&J.
Things happened quickly so I made up my gameplan on the spot. Rather than move methodically from one side to the other, I decided to break up the flavors by jumping back and forth. I started with peanut butter for a few bites, then hopped to the other end to take on root beer.
After a few bites I decided to double fist. The reason? The root beer flavor was tough to get down. It tasted exactly like flat root beer, and actually put a little doubt in my mind that I’d be able to prevail. I alternated between these two but definitely took smaller, less frequent bites of the root beer.
I added some strawberry-jalapeno to the peanut butter and was pleasantly surprised by the spiciness. The change of pace from sweetness overload was clutch. I refocused on the root beer and made a concerted effort to take it down. It helped to scoop up some strawberry-jalapeno to cut the intense root beer flavor.
After finally getting it down I was left with coffee-toffee ice cream between two cookies and a big ball of vanilla ice cream. At this point any semblance of social acceptability went out the window and I just barehanded the ball of vanilla ice cream. I successfully toed the fine line between eating quickly and brain freeze and put the vanilla ice cream in the rear view mirror. Without a doubt, the coffee-toffee ice cream was my favorite, but I knew that going in since it’s my regular order anyway.
As I was getting through this last sandwich I was surprised how not-terrible I felt. Early on I started to feel uncomfortable pretty quickly, but that plateaued and my body somehow found some sort of weird balance. With the last bites approaching, the great guys at Coolhaus got the crowd cheering louder. I happily tossed back the last bite and savored how delicious it really was, even after the irresponsible amount of ice cream.
They cut me some slack by not forcing me to finish off the small pool of melted ice cream in the bottom. I certainly could have, but let’s just say I wasn’t about to volunteer to do it. They videoed the whole thing and I’m waiting to hear back how long it took me, which I’ll update here. [Update: Official time according to Coolhaus is 11 minutes 42 seconds. Not bad!]
By my measure, each scoop of ice cream was probably a cup. A regular pint of ice cream is two cups, or four half-cup servings. At a normal average of about 250 calories per serving, and eating ten servings (five 1-cup scoops), that’s 2,500 calories. And with a (hopeful) estimate of 100 calories per cookie, we’re looking at a total of 3,100 calories. Take out my 2,500 calories from running and it doesn’t sound so bad!
Thanks to the Coolhaus team for having fun with this and to Ev for all of the support and great pictures you see here. They joked about defending my title next year and doing it faster, but we’ll see. That may simply come down to if I’m in the middle of marathon training or not. And yes, I realize how sick this is (both the marathon training and the ice cream overload) but I had fun and that’s what counts!